August 20, 2002
MEXICAN LABOR BIBLIOGRAPHY
By Dan La Botz
Visiting Assistant Professor,
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
[This bibliography is a work in progress.]
Table of Contents:
I — Bibliography of Mexican Labor, short entries
II — Bibliography of Mexican Labor, reviews
III — Bibliogrpahy of Mexican Rual Workers and Indigenous People
IV — Bibliography of Mexican Politics
V — Bibliography of Archives and Historiography
I originally wrote many of these notes, annotations and reviews for Mexican Labor News and Analysis, an electronic newsletter about Mexican workers and labor unions that I have edited for the last several years. (See MLNA at: http://www.ueinternational.org/ Now I have put these notes and reviews together to comprise an annotated bibliography of books in English and Spanish dealing mostly with the modern Mexican labor movement, that is since the mid-nineteenth century. This bibliography includes historical and social science studies of the working class, labor unions, and labor leaders' biographies. There are also related books on social movements and politics. In addition, because the subject matter is often closely related, I have included a number of books dealing with economic history and studies of specific industries.
Because of their importance to the labor movement, this bibliography also includes many books on the history of the Mexican anarchist, socialist, and communist movements, and related biographies. Finally, because of the intertwined history of the Mexican Revolution and Mexican labor organizations, I have also included many of the important books dealing with the Mexican Revolution.
A bibliography such as this is necessary for several reasons. First, Mexican publishing houses are often small and short lived ventures without the resources to advertise their publications internationally. Second, both the small and large Mexican publishing houses often publish small press runs of only 2,000 copies of each book, meaning that many of these books never find their way to U.S. or other foreign libraries. Third, most academic bibliographies, reviews and journals often neglect journalist, popular or labor union books, many of which are included here.
All listings are by the author’s last name (that is by the author's father's name). The citation (author, title, edition, city, publisher, date) is followed by an indication of the books other features (photographs, tables, charts, bibliography, index) and the number of pages. Next comes the book note, beginning where the information was available with a brief description of the author (academic, journalist, union leader, etc.), followed by descriptive comments on the book and perhaps an evaluation.
I — Bibliography of Mexican labor
Diego Abad de Santillan. Ricardo Flores Magon: El apostol de la revolucion social
mexicana. Third Edition. Mexico: Secretary de Trabajo y Prevision Social, 1986. 137 pages. [The first edition:: Abad de Santillan, Diego. Ricardo Flores Magon: El apostol de la revolucion social mexicana. Mexico, D.F.: Grupo Cultural "Ricardo Flores Magon," 1925.]
Diego Abad de Santillan was a Spanish anarchist who also lived in Argentina and spent some time in Mexico. This short book deals with Ricardo Flores Magon as revolutionary and as author. The text includes many long extracts from Ricardo Flores Magon's journalism, manifestos and letters.
Hugo Aboites, Viento del Norte: TLC y privatizacion de la Educacion Superior. Mexico: Casa abierta al tiempo and Plaza y Valdez Editores, 1997. Notes, 429 pages.
Hugo Aboites is not only a professor and researcher in the Department of Education and Communication of the Metropolitan Autonomous University at Xochimilco, but also an activist and advisor to the movement of students and parents which has challenged so-called educational reforms. In this significant book, Aboites examines the influence of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and the American model of higher education on Mexico's university system.
Aboites argues that the United States's model of education based on tuition, restriction of access, commercialization of services, and links to private industry has worked to destroy Mexico's tradition of free higher education. Aboites argues in the conclusion of his book that Mexicans should fight for autonomy, democracy, and the creation of an economy which improves the lives of Mexico's masses. Deals with issues of higher education in Mexico and the United States, and in the effects of NAFTA and neo-liberalism on our societies.
S. Lief Adelson and Mario Camarena Ocampo, eds. Comunidad, cultura y vida social: ensayos sobre la formacion de la clase obrera: Seminario de movimiento obrero y Revolucion Mexicana. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, 1991. 349 pages.
S. Lief Adelson and Mario Camarena Ocampo are historians and the editors of this collection of nine essays in social and cultural history of the Mexican workingclass. The essays deal with workers in the late 19th or 20thcentury and discuss textile workers, stevedores, and petroleum workers, among others. One essays deals with Mexican immigrants to Chicago, and another with the history of workers in Mexico City.
Sergio Aguayo Quezada. La Charola: Una historia de los servicios de inteligencia
en México. Mexico: Grijalbo, 2001, photographs. Bibliography.
This book is both a history of Mexico’s intelligence services, and of their repression of Mexico’s guerrilla movement and of other social movements. A must read for those interested in human rights, social movements and revolutionary struggles in Mexico.
Javier Aguilar Garcia, ed. Los Sindicatos Nacionales. (A series.)
Javier Aguilar Garcia is a professor at the Institute of Social Investigation at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the editor of this series of books on various industries and national labor unions. Each book brings together a
series of essays by authors who are experts on a particular industry or union. The essays deal both with the history and the contemporary situation of the industry and union. Each volume is approximately 300 pages. So far there are five volumes in this series all edited by Aguilar which follow:
Volume I. Los Petroleros. Mexico: G.V. Editores, 1986.
Volume II. Minero-Metalurgicos. Mexico: G.V. Editores, 1987.
Volume III. Industrias Dinamicas. Mexico: G.V. Editores
1988. (This volume deals with the unions of the
following industries: automobiles, airlines, soft-drink
bottling, rubber workers, chemical industry.)
Volume IV. Educacion, Telefonistas y Bancarios. Mexico: G.V.
Volume V. Electricistas. Mexico: G.V. Editores, 1989. This
volume deals with the electrical workers of SME and
SUTERM and with the nuclear workers of SUTIN.
Javier Aguilar Garcia et al. Legislacion Laboral : El Debate de
una propuesta. Mexico. Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana (UAM) Xochimilco and Fundacion Friedrich Ebert, 1996.
Attorneys Nestor de Buen and Carlos de Buen found themselves at the center of a controversy after they wrote a proposed labor law reform bill for the National Action Party (PAN) which was presented to the Chamber of Deputies (the Mexican lower house) on June 12, 1995. Their proposal to change the Federal Labo Law (LFT) combined elements of both employer demands for greater flexibility to achieve higher productivity, and some of the labor-left's demands for an end to the system of corporativism or state party (PRI) control over the unions.
In 1996 the Mexican Network of Labor Researchers and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (the German Social Democratic Party foundation which provides funds to some labor unions and academic groups in Mexico) organized a seminar to discuss the law at the Metropolitan Autonomous University's Xochimilco campus. This book contains essays evaluating and criticizing the de Buen/PAN proposal by some of Mexico's leading labor lawyers, sociologists of work, and labor historians: Javier Aguilar Garcia, Graciela Bensusan, Rosa Albina Garavito, Marco Gomez Solorzano, Jorge Gonzalez Rodarte, Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez, Octavio Loyzaga de la Cueva, Luisa Mussot, Mario Ortega Olivarez, Patricia Ravelo, Armando Rendon Corona, Jesus Rodriguez Godinez, and Sergio Sanchez.
Most of the authors of these essays are quite critical of the de Buen/PAN proposal, and the general conclusion is that this proposed reform of the Federal Labor Law would, even if it ended the state-control ov the unions, lead to a new employer-dominated corporative control. This book is important, especially for those interested labor law and the relationship of unions to the state and employers.
Jorge Alonzo and Juan Manuel Ramirez Saiz, LA DEMOCRACIA DE LOS
DE ABAJO (Mexico: La Jornada Ediciones, Consejo Electoral del Estado de Jalisco, and Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Humanidades/UNAM, 1997).
Since 1985 there has been a great debate in Mexico over democratization of the government, political parties, and society in general. Many Mexicans looked to "civil society," that is to the citizens of Mexico to carry out this democratization and end the one-party state of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. But "civil society" turns out to be a problematic concept, for that civil society is divided into social classes which often have antagonistic interests, rich and poor, bosses and workers, landlords and peasants.
This book, the title of which could be translated "The Democracy of the Underdogs," looks at civil society and its underdogs: Indians, women, peasants, the urban poor, workers, the debtors movement. Two essays will be of particular interest to those who study Mexican labor unions. Arturo Alcade J. and Bertha Lujan U. write on "How Mexican Workers Experience Democracy," and Susan Street writes on "The Teachers and Democracy from Below." But the entire book will be important for those who follow Mexico's social movements and process of democratization.
Oscar Alzaga and Max Ortega, eds. Trabajo y Democracia Hoy. Las
100 luchas mas importantes del movimiento de los trabajadores. (Magazine) Number 25 (Special). Mexico, D.F.
This special number of the magazine Trabajo and Democracia Hoy edited by attorney Oscar Alzaga and historian Max Ortega presents a profusely illustrated history of the 100 most important labor battles in the history of Mexico from 1906 to 1995. There is also a short but excellent bibliography.
Gregg Andrews. Shoulder to Shoulder? The American Federation of
Labor, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution 1910 to 1924. (Berkeley: University of California, 1991).
Gregg Andrews is Assistant Professor of History at Southwest
Texas State University. His book is an important re-examination of the relationship between the AFL and the US government and also looks at the relations between the AFL and the Mexican CROM. The time period as the title indicates is 1910 to 1924. Notes,
Alberto Arnaut Salgado, Historia de una profesion: Los maestros
de educacion primaria en Mexico: 1887-1994 (Mexico: Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, 1996) 246 pages. Bibliography.
Alberto Arnaut Salgado spent many years both as an academic and an advisor to top officials of the Mexican Secretary of Public Education (SEP), and his book was written while studying at the Colegio de Mexico. Arnaut's book is, to the best of our knowledge, the only history of the teaching profession in modern Mexico. This book will be very useful to specialists studying education. But, primarily focussed on the Mexican government's various education plans, budgets, and teacher education and training programs, this book is a bureaucrat's history of the educational bureaucracy. Arnaut's book is quite uneven. Certain omissions strike one as strange. Arnaut cannot bring himself to mention Jose Vasconcelos, Secretary of Education in the early 1920s who transformed Mexican education, nor does he include in his bibliography Claude Fell's great study of Vasconcelos's work in those years. With the exception of the chapter "Maestros en la Revolucion," Arnaut fails to relate the vicissitudes of the teaching profession to the changes in Mexico's economy and society. Arnaut discusses the relation between the Secretary of Education and the Mexican teachers' union (el SNTE), but he has little to say about the historic struggle of teachers for reform from below. He does not discuss the significance of "Socialist Education" in the 1930s. He barely mentions in passing the great teachers' strike of 1956. He does he not discuss the National Coordinating Committee of the teachers union (la CNTE) of the 1980s. This book will be important for specialists, but too dry for most readers.
Alberto Aziz Nassif. El Estado mexicano y la CTM. Mexico:
Ediciones de la Casa Chata, 1989. 345 pages.
Alberto Aziz Nassif is a researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS) and a columnist for the Mexico City daily newspaper La Jornada. His book is a study of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and its relations with the state, using as his hypothesis the theory of "corporativism" or state control of the union. The book treats the entire time span of the CTM from its creation in the 1930s until the mid 1980s when the author was
writing. Charts, tables, bibliography.
Jean-Pierre Bastian. Los disidentes: Sociedades protestantes y
revolucion en Mexico, 1872-1911. Mexico: Colegio de Mexico and Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1989. Second printing 1993. Appendices, bibiography, index. 373 pages.
Jean-Pierre Bastian's Los disidentes is the story of Protestant churches in Mexico from the beginning of the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz until the Revolution. The book describes the attempts by President Juarez to create a schismatic church and his failure, and then the arrival of the Protestant missionaries from the United States. Bastian shows the relationship between Protestant congregations, rebellious peasants, and groups of artisans and workers in textiles, mining railroads, and other industries. Protestant church groups sometimes worked alongside or with union and socialist groups in Mexico during the Porfiriate, and later in the movements of Ricardo Flores Magon and Francisco I. Madero. Well written, extremely intelligent and thought-provoking Bastian's book will be of interest to those who study Mexican labor, the Mexican Revolution, and U.S. influence in Mexico.
Maria Cristina Bayon. El sindicalismo automotriz mexicano frente a un nuevo
escenario: una perspective desde los liderazgos. Mexico: Facultad Latinoamricana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) and Juan Pablos Editor, 1997. 207 pages. Notes, bibliography.
Maria Cristina Bayon's book represents an important contribution both to the study of the automobile industry and to the more general discussion of the nature of Mexican labor unions. Bayon's book opens with a detailed discussion of the state of the Mexican auto industry, and then moves to a fascinating discussion of the state of the Mexican auto workers' unions, based largely on interviews with local union leaders.
Charles Bergquist, Labor and the Course of American Democracy:
U.S. History in Latin American Perspective. New York: Verso, 1996. Tables, illustrations, photographs. Recommendations for furthering reading. 209 pages. $20 paper/$60 hardbound.
Charles Bergquist's Labor and the Course of American Democracy: U.S. History in Latin American Perspective brings together five essays dealing with the relationship between the U.S. and Latin American all organized around the theme of the centrality of labor. The author puts the issues of democracy, social equality, and internationalism at the center of his discussion, arguing for democratic reform, and I think it would not be far wrong to call this a social democratic interpretation of U.S.-Latin American history. Rejecting both laissez-faire capitalism and Leninist Communism, Bergquist argues for a more democratic and egalitarian relationship between the people of the United States and those of Latin America.
Julieta Campos. ?Que hacemos con los pobres? La reiterada querella por la nacion. Mexico: Aguilar Nuevo Siglo, 1995. 688 pages.
Julieta Campos is a novelist, essayist, university professor, former president of Pen Club (1978-1982), etc. Her book is an encyclopedic discussion of the nature of poverty in Mexico, a wealth of information. The book has notes, index, bibliography.
Nicolas Cardenas Garcia. Empresas y trabajadores en la gran mineria mexicana:
1900-1929. Mexico: INEHRM, 1998. 362 pages. Bibliography, charts, tables, graphs, maps, photographs.
Cardenas, head of research in history at UAM-Xochimilco, emphasizes the miners’ daily life and communities, as well as their labor unions, strikes and relationship to the government in this important and prize-winning study of the Mexican mining industry between the end of the Porfiriate and the crash of 1929.
Barry Carr. Marxism and Communism in Twentieth Century Mexico. Lincoln:
University of Nebraska, 1992. 437 pages.
Barry Carr is labor historian and professor La Trobe University in Australia. His book is a history of the Mexican Communist Party from its birth in 1919 to its demise in 1988, and is included in this list because of the role of the Mexican Communist Party in various labor and peasant organizations. Carr's book is the definitive book in English on the Mexican Communist Party. Tables, extensive notes, bibliography, index.
Jorge Carrillo. Dos Decadas de Sindicalismo en la Industria Maquiladora de
Exportacion: Examen en las ciudades de Tijuana, Juarez y Matamoros. Mexico: Casa abierta al tiempo, Unidad Iztapalapa and Miguel Angel Porrua, Grupo Editorial, 1994.
Jorge Carrillo holds a doctor of sociology degree from the Colegio de Mexico and is a researcher at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana. His book is a study of the labor unions in the maquiladoras from 1969 to 1989, looking at the original theory behind the creation of the maquiladoras, changes in technology, the workforce, the role of gender and the unions. HIs cae studies are Tijuana, Juarez and Matamoros. The book cntains two important appendices, one giving the labor conflicts in the maquiladoras from 1969 to 1986 and the other giving the decrees which have regulated the maquiladoras. Carrillo reaches important conclusions about these "low profile" unions and their affect on the rest of the Mexican labor movement.
Manuel Ceballos Ramirez. El Catolicismo Social: Un Tecero en Discordia. Rerum
Novrum, la "cuestion social" y la movilizacion de los catolicos mexicanos (1891-1911). Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico, 1991. Bibliography. 447 pages.
Manuel Ceballos Ramirez's El Catolicismo Social represents an important contribution to Mexican social and labor history. For years most Mexican historians ignored or wrote out of history altogether the Roman Catholic "social Christian" organizations. El Catolicismo Social will help to correct this distorted view. Ceballos Ramirez documents the rise of the social Christian movement in Mexico, including the creation of dozens of different workers' organizations in many states of Mexico. These various workers' organizations came together under the umbrella of the Operarios Gaudalupanos and the Union Catolica Obrera. Ceballos Ramirez estimates that by 1911 as many as 30,000 workers were associated with these Catholic workers' organizations. This book which discusses Roman Catholic theology, and gives a detailed account of a great variety of Mexican social Christian organizations is a book for specialists. But its central argument remains of more general interest and importance.
Oscar F. Contreras et al. Cananea: Tradicion y Modernidad en una Mina
Historica. Mexico, D.F.: El Colegio de Sonora y Porrua, 1998.
Several distinguished sociologists and historians--Oscar F. Contreras, Alejandro Covarrubias, Migael Angel Ramirez and Juan Luis Sariego Rodriguez--have written essays for this study of the Cananea copper mine since the privatization in 1989. The dean of Latin American sociologists of labor, Francisco Zapata, is the author of the introduction.
Luis Chavez Orozco. La Agonia del artesanado: Seleccion de documentos y prologo. Mexico: Centro de Estudios Historicos del Movimiento Obrero (CEHSMO), 1977. 108 pages.
Luis Chavez Orozco of Guanajuato, Mexico (1901-1966) held various positions in governmental insitutions such as the Secretary of Foreign Relations and the Library of the Secretary of Public Education. He was an autodidact who became interested in history and eventually wrote many articles and books. This book, produced for the Fifth Meeting of Mexican and U.S. Historians hld in Patzcuaro, Michigan in October 1977 is a selection of documents about the devastation of the Mexican artisans in the early 19th century, and includes plays and state legislative debates.
Luis Chavez Orozco. La Situacion del minero asalariado en la nueva espana a fines
del siglo XVIII. Mexico: Centro de Estudios Historicos del Movimiento Obrero (CEHSMO), 1978. 103 pages.
Originally published in 1935 by the Secretaria de la Economia Nacional with this same title as volume VIII of the series Documentos para la Historia Economica de Mexico. The book is made up of two reports one by a Pedro Joseph del Leonz and the other by a Mr. Areche. Apparently both reports were solicited by the Viceroy after a miners rebellion in the Real del Monte, near modern day Pachuca, Hidalgo. Chaves Orozco in the 1934 introductory note writes: "Did a proletarian clase exist in New Spain? If it did, what was its class consciousness?"
Maria Lorena Cook. Organizing Dissent: Unions, the State, and the Democratic Teachers' Movement in Mexico. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. Photographs, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. 359 pages.
Maria Lorena Cook, assistant professor at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, asked, "How did teachers build a mass movement for democratic unionism in an 'official' union and in an authoritarian society?" In response to that question she has written an excellent account of the important rank and file labor movement known as la CNTE, the Coordinating Committee of the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE). Most studies of social movements or of labor reform movements ignore or neglect the importance of the movement's own organizational structures, procedures and values, but Cook puts those issues at the very center of her study. What makes this book important is its emphasis on the democratic self-organization of the teachers movement as essential not only to its survival, but also to the achievement of its goals of democratizing the union, and--at least for some of its members-- the larger goal of democratizing Mexican society.
Victor Alejandro Espinzoa Valle. Reforma del Estado y Empleo Publico: El
conflicto laboral en el sector publico de Baja California. Mexico: Insituto Nacional de Administracion Publica. 380 pages.
Victor Alejando Espinoza Valle holds a bachelor's degree (licenciatura) in public administration from the Autonomous University of Baja California, a masters and doctors degree in political science from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a doctors degree in sociology from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid. He has taught at various universities and is currently the Director of the Department of Social Studies of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte.
His book, as the title suggests, is a study of the impact of "state reform" from 1982 to 1992 on public employees unions. His case study is the state of Baja California. The book's four chapters are: Capitulo I, "La Reforma del Estado Mexicano. Nueva Epoca;" Capitulo II, "El Empleo en el Sector Publico Mexicano;" Capitulo III, "La Organizacion Corporativa de la Burocracia," and Capitulo IV, "Relaciones Laborales y Conflictos en el Sector Publico en Baja California."
Charts, tables, extensive bibliography.
Ricardo Flores Magon. Correspondencia de Ricardo Flores Magon
(1904-1912). Recopilacion e introduccion de Jacinto Barrera Bassols. Puebla: Universidad Autonoma de Puebla, 1989. 462 Pages. Index.
Jacinto Barrera Bassols has put together this collection of 284 letters of Ricardo Flores Magon found in the archives of the Secretaria de Relacion Exteriores (SRE) in Mexico City. The introduction is a detailed account of the provenance of the letters, biographical details, and an account of the Mexican government's system of spies and secret agents. There are name, place, and subject indices.
Manuel Fuentes. La imposicion laboral que nos viene del norte. Mexico: Comision
Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, A.C., 1994. 254 pages.
Manuel Fuentes is a professor of labor law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) since 1981, a teacher at the University Obrera in Mexico, and a member of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights and the National Association of Democratic Attorneys (ANAD). His book A comparative study of Canadian, U.S. and Mexican labor law, looking at the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement upon the workers in all three countries.
Vicente Fuentes Diaz. La clase obrera. Entre el anarquismo y la religion. Mexico:
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1994. 313 pages.
A history of the early twentieth century Mexican working class putting new emphasis on the role of Roman Catholic political and labor organizations and comparing those Catholic movements to the anarchist labor movement. The book contains four appendices with important anarchist and Catholic labor documents.
Rutilio GaliciaEspinosa. El almacen de mis recuerdos. Mexico, INEHRM, 1997. 60
Galicia Espinosa tells his story as a worker in Amecameca, Estado de Mexico, during the period the Mexican Revolution. A carpenter in a textile mill, and later a worker at the Ford Motor company, he tells straightforward engaging stories whether about his work in the factory at San Rafael or his encounters with the Zapatistas.
Rosa Maria Garza Marcue. El tambor del alba: La tendencia democratica del
Sindicato Unico de Trabajadores Electricistas de la Republica Mexicana. Trayectoria y proyecto. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropolgia e Historia, 1990.
Rosa Maria Garza Marcue is an academic at the Centro Regional de Puebla of the National Institute of Anthropology and History. Her book is a study of the Democratic Tendency and the SUTERM electrical workers union in the 1970s.
Juan Gomez-Quinones. Las ideas politicas de Ricardo Flores Magon. Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1977. Notes, bibliography. 253 pages.
Juan Gomez-Quinones has writen a 90-page intellectual biography of Ricardo Flores Magon, together with 140 pages of documents. Gomez-Quinones looks at Flores Magon's career as a revolutionary, but in particular he had upon the Chicano community in the United States. The documents include manifestos, newspaper articles, and letters.
Elba Esther Gordillo. La Construccion de un proyecto sindical: Mi testimnio.
Mexico: Taurus, 1995. 191 pages.
Elba Esther Gordillo is the former general secretary of the Mexican teachers union (SNTE) and a leader of the "Foro: Sindicalismo Ante la Nacion," or the Foro group of unions. Her book is a collection of essays and speeches written in the 1990s,
and lays out her views on the need for a new Mexican labor union culture.
Jose Enrique Gonzalez Ruiz. Ruta 100: La quiebra del estado de derecho. Mexico:
Grupo Editorial Planeta, 1996. 253 pages.
Jose Enrique Gonzalez Ruiz is a founder of the Frente Nacional de Abogados Democraticos (FNAD), and a professor at the Instituto de Investigaciones Economicas at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He was formerly the
rector of the Autonomous University of Guerrero from 1981 to 1984.
His book is an account of the Route 100 bus drivers in 1995 and 96, very sympathetic to the union of the bus drivers of Route 100 and its political leadership. The book contains many appendices with various manifestos, letters from the union leadership in prison, and end notes with references to newspaper articles and other documents.
Maria Luisa Gonzalez Marin. La Industria de bienes de capital en Mexico. Mexico:
Instituto de Investigaciones Economicas of UNAM and Ediciones el Caballito, S.A., 1996. 138 pages. Notes, bibliography and many useful tables.
Maria Luisa Gonzalez is a researcher who has written extensively on industry, unions and workers, including articles on the sugar, steel, textile, and soft drink industries. This book is not about unions, but important for those who are interested in unions. It looks at the impact of free trade and specifically of NAFTA on the Mexican capital goods sector.
Miguel Angel Granados Chapa. El siglo de Fidel Velazquez. Mexico: Pangea, 1996.
Miguel Angel Granados Chapa is a newspaper columnist for the Mexico City daily Reforma and a radio commentator on "Radio UNAM." His short biography of Fidel Velazquez is both good history and an excellent critical account of Fidel. "Fidel Velazquez is the incarnation of that style of labor representation, closer to the bosses and the government than to its constituency, more combative against that unionism which it considers the enemy than it is against the highest cost of living, inflation, or rip-offs." (pp. 9-10.)
George W. Grayson. The Mexican Labor Machine: Power, Politics,
and Patronage. (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1989.) 85 pages. Charts, diagrams, etc.
George W. Grayson is Class of 1938 Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is the author of several books on the Mexican oil industry and the petroleum workers union. He also writes for such papers as the Wall Street Journal and has served as a member of the state legislature of Virginia. His book, Volume XI, Number 3 of the Center for Strategic and International Studies "Significant Issues Series," is a very handy overview of the Mexican labor movement.
Angelina Gutierrez Arriola. Los Transnacionales y los Trabajadores. Mexico:
Instituto de Investigaciones Economicas de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and Editorial Nuestro Tiempo, 1990. There are 24 tables and a statistical appendix. No bibliography, but notes.
Angelina Gutierrez Arriola is an academic and her book is a study of the impact of the transnational corporations on the Mexican working class. The book is divided into three chapters: Chapter I. "La Internacionalizacion del Capital y la Division Internacional del Trabajo;" Chapter II, "La Economica Mexicana y el Proceso de Internacionalizacion de Capital;" Chapter III. "Tercerca Fase: La Economica Mexicana en la Decada de los
Salvador Hernandez Padilla. El Magonismo: Historia de una pasion libertaria 1900-1922. Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1984. Bibliography. 255 pages.
Hernandez Padilla's El Magonismo is a detailed study of the Mexican Liberal Party from its founding until the death of its principal leader Ricardo Flores Magon. The book deals with the founding of the party, the Cananea and Rio Blanco strikes, the two attempts at national uprisings in 1906 and 1908, and then offers a critical evaluation of the PLM and its legacy. The books appendices contain the Manifestos of 1905, 1906 and 1911.
Carmen Herrera. Derechos Humanos Laborales. Mexico: Centro de Reflexion
Accion Laboral and Universidad Iberoamericana, Plantel Leon, 1996. 178 pages. Many charts and tables.
Carmen Herrera is an associate of CEREAL, the Center for Reflection and Labor Action, a labor human rights center which grew out of Roman Catholic social activism. Her book is a sophisticated theoretical and legal handbook for teaching workers and worker educators what are workers' human rights and how to fight for them within the Mexican legal system. The book is a compendium of useful information about the legal situation of workers in Mexico, written from a Roman Catholic perspective.
Donald C. Hodges. Mexican Anarchism After the Revolution. Austin: University of
Texas, 1995. Notes, index. 251 pages.
While ostensibly a history of anarchism after 1920, in reality this book is divided into two parts. The first half of the book tells the story of Ruben Jaramillo, the sometimes Communist, mason and Methodist preacher, who organized peasant movements and political parties from the the late 1930s into the early 1960s when he was murdered by the Mexican Army and police. The second part of the book is Hodge's version of a history of anarchist theory and practice. Unfortunately, Hodge believes that Stalinist Communist, Maoists, Trotskyists, and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) can all be considered part of this Anarchist Tradition, so the second part of the book is quite confused and confusing.
Carlos Illades. Hacia la Republica del Trabajo: La organizacion artesanal en la
ciudad de Mexico, 1853-1876. Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico and Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa, 1996. 230 pages.
Carlos Illades is an academic and a professional historian. His book is a history of artisans in Mexico City in the late 19th century, and argues against the thesis that artisans declined and disappeared in the late 19th century with the introduction of industry. Illades argues that artisans were a vibrant part of the Mexican working class in the 19th century who helped to shape the culture of new groups of workers. An important work of social
Samuel Kaplan. Combatimos La Tirania: Un Pionero Revolucionario Cuenta su
Historia, Conversaciones con Enrique Flores Magon. Mexico: Biblioteca del Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de la Revolucion Mexicana, 1958. 323 pages.
An extended interview with Enrique Flores Magon, one of the leaders of the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM) dealing with his life from his childhood to the death of his brother Ricardo in 1922. This book, written like a novel, is an important primary source for the study of the brothers Flores Magon and the PLM.
Dan La Botz. The Crisis of Mexican Labor. New York: Praeger,
1988. 206 pages. Bibliography and index.
Dan La Botz is a former labor activist, writer, and Visiting Assistant Professor at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. His book is a concise overview of the history of the Mexican labor movement from 1910 to 1988. The book's emphasis is on the struggle of rank and file workers against union bureaucrats, bosses and the state.
Dan La Botz. Mask of Democracy: Labor Suppression in Mexico
Today. Boston: South End Press, 1992. 225 pages. Extensive notes, index.
La Botz originally wrote this book as an investigation andreport for the International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund of Washington, D.C. The report was circulated to Congress and intended to educate legislators on the conditions of Mexican unions and workers during the debate over NAFTA. The book deals
with the history, legal rights, and conditions of Mexican workers with emphasis on the years of presidents de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The book is fundamentally an indictment of the Mexican government for its failure to protect workers' rights.
Dan La Botz. Democracy in Mexico: Peasant Rebellion and Political Reform.
Boston: South End Press, 1995.
In this book La Botz attempts to put the Chiapas uprising led by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation into the context of Mexico's other democratic movements. The book is included in this list because Chapter 8 "Workers Plot Rebellion on the Northern Border," is a survey of various cross-border international labor organizing strategies. La Botz looks for example at cooperation between the United Electrical workers (UE) of the United States and the Authentic Labor Front (FAT) of Mexico. Notes, bibliography, index.
Thomas C. Langham. Border Trials: Ricardo Flores Magon and the Mexican
Liberals. El Paso: The University of Texas, Texas Western Press, 1981. Southwestern Studies, Monograph No. 65. Illustrations.
A brief, well documented account of the trials of Ricardo Flores Magon and other members of the Mexican Liberal Party.
Gustavo Lopez Pardo, La Administracion Obrera de los Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico. Mexico: UNAM & El Caballito. Notes, bibliography, 217 pages.
Gustavo Lopez Pardo, a researcher at the Institute of Economic Investigations of the National Autonomous University, has written an important book about one of the most fascinating episodes of Mexican labor history: the workers' administration of the national railroads from 1937 to 1941 during the administration of President Lazaro Cardenas. Cardenas completed the nationalization of the Mexican railroads (begun during the Porfiriate), but this turned railroad workers into public employees without the right to strike. To resolve this conflict with the railroad workers union, Cardenas turned the administration of the railroads over to the union.
Cardenas made it clear that the union's could administer the railroads, but did not own them and could not determine their basic policies, such as shipping rates. The once militant union, now both manager and workers' representative, became deeply divided internally and ineffective in either role. Eventually the railroad management passed back into the hands of the state. This book makes an important contribution to the history of the Mexican labor movement and the Cardenas administration, and to discussions of workers' management of industry. Based primarily on documents from the Mexican Archivo General de la Nacion (AGN).
Jose Luis Manzo Yepez and Rosa Albina Garavito Elias. La Petroquimica
Mexicana: ?Industria estrategica o subordinada? Mexico: Instituto de Estudios de la Revolucion Democratica and Editorial Nuestro Tiempo, S.A. 170 pages.
A series of talks delivered at a forum on the petrochemical industry organized by the Instituto de Estudios de la Revolucion Democratica which is a think-tank of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). The eight talks or essays all opposing the privatization of the petroleum industry include presentations by Herberto Castillo and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Solorzano.
Gonzalo Martre and Angelica Marval. Costureras: Debajo de los Escombros.
Mexico: Grupo Editorial Planeta Mexico, 1995. 153 pages.
The authors are journalists. Their book is a collection of newspaper article from September, October and November 1985 from three Mexican daily newspapers: La Jornada, El Universal, and Unomasuno. The first part of the book is reportage, the second
part testimonies and interviews.
Colin M. MacLachlan. Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution: The
Political Trials of Ricardo Flores Magon in the United States. With a Forward by John Mason Hart. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
Colin M. Machlan is the author of several books on colonial Mexico and professor of history at Tulane University. His book Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution is an account of the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM) and the U.S. government's repression of the party in the United States. The book discusses the PLM's relations with U.S. labor unions, socialist and anarchists, and includes an account of the major trials of the PLM leaders. What makes this book distinctive is its interesting critique of Ricardo Flores Magon and the PLM for their failure to proclaim their anarchist politics and to take a more active role in the revolution.
Jorge Mejia Prieto. Yo, Fidel Velazquez: Biografia Fidelisima de un Lider Obero.
Mexico: Fragua Politica, 1993. 96 pages.
The writer Jorge Mejia Prieto has written a short pseudo-autobiography of Fidel Velazquez, head of the Mexican Confederation of Workers (CTM), that is, a biography written as if it were an autobiography. The book is illustrated with about 20 cartoons.
Kevin Middlebrook. The Paradox of Revolution: Labor, the State and
Authoritarianism in Mexico. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1995. Extensive notes, bibliography, index, 463 pages. Extensive notes and bibliography.
Kevin Middlebrook is Director of Research at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California at San Diego. His book is a study of the relations between the Mexican state and the labor movement from the era of the revolution until today, but with its emphasis on the railroad workers and the automobile workers unions. Middlebrook makes use of government agency documents, such as records of the labor board hearings. The book rejects the "corporativist" view of unions and emphasizes the relative autonomy of workers even within the official unions. A political scientist, Middlebrook has written in an unattractive and inaccessible academic style. Nevertheless this will be the standard work in English on Mexican unions for some time.
Manuel Mino Grijalva. La manufactura colonial: La constitucion del obraje.
(Jornadas 123) Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico, 1993. Illustrations, tables, notes, appendices, bibliography. 204 pages.
Mino Grijalva's book is a study of the obrajes or textile manufactories which existed in New Spain from the 16th to the 18th century, a study in proto-industrialization. The author looks both at domestic work and workers concentrated in the obrajes. Based on property inventories, the author describes various obrajes and their technology. The emphasis in this book is on technology, and the author has little to say either about work organization or about the workers themselves. Interestingly, the obrajes were later displaced by Indian home workers whose labor was cheaper. Thee are a number of interesting illustrations.
David Monroy [pseud.], Mexican Teachers and the Struggle for Democracy(San
Francisco: Global Exchange, 1997) Pamphlet, photographs, 13 pages.
Global Exchange, the non-governmental organization which is a leader in promoting international solidarity and in supporting struggles for democracy in Mexico, has produced an excellent short pamphlet on Mexican teachers, their struggle for democracy, and the Mexican government's campaign of repression against them. Author David Monroy combines history, political analysis, and journalism in this wonderfully written booklet will be of use of interest to labor unionists and human rights activists. Teachers unions in Canada and the United States should buy quantities of this pamphlet to distribute among their officers, stewards, and active members, and other unions might do so as well. This pamphlet makes an excellent companion to Maria Lorena Cook's book Organizing Dissent: Unions, the State, and the Democratic Teachers' Movement in Mexico, and could be recommended for classroom use in courses in Latin American studies or labor studies.
Yoland Montiel. Proceso de Trabajo, Accion Sindical y Nuevas Technologias en
Volkswagen de Mexico. Mexico: Coleccion de Miguel Othon de Mendizabal (CIESAS) and SEP, 1991. 263 pages.
Yoland Montiel is a researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS). Her book is a study of the worker and union response to technological and work organization changes at Volkswagen of Mexico in the 1970s and 80s.
Patricia Morales. Indocumentados Mexicanos: Causas y raznes de la migracion laboral. Second edition. Mexico: Grijalbo, 1989. Bibliography, index, 396 pages.
Morales's book is an excellent global study of the problem of Mexican labor migration to the U.S. The book is a Marxist analysis which puts the labor migration issue into the context of U.S. and Mexican economic relations, and the economic and social history of both countries. The book both traces the history of Mexican labor migration to the United States and looks at the major economic, social and political issues involved. There is a detailed discussion of the Simpson-Rodino Immigration Law. The final pages look at efforts at international labor solidarity.
Victoria Novelo. La dificil democracia de los petroleros: Historia de un proyecto
sindical. Mexico: CIESAS and El Caballito, 1991. 162 pages. Bibliography.
Victoria Novelo is a researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS). Her book is a sociological study of the struggle for
union democracy in the Mexican petroleum workers union in the 1980s.
Max Ortega. Neoliberalism y Lucha Sindical. Mexico: Cencos and CRT, 1995. 432
Max Ortega is a university professor at the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) Iztapalapa Campus, best known for his historical work on the railroad unions. His book is an account of the impact of neo-liberalism on the Mexican labor unions. The book is divided into four long chapters. Chapter I "Corporativismo, reestructuracion capitalist y Estado del bienestar. Consideraciones teoricas generales"; Chapter II "La estrategia economica neoliberal de los gobiernos de Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado y Carlos Salinas de Gortari, 1982- 1992"; Chapter III. "Sindicalismo oficial, 1982-1992"; Chapter IV "La political laboral, 1982-1992." There is an extensive bibliography.
Max Ortega and Ana Alicia Solis de Alba. Mexico: estado y sindicatos: 1983-1988.
Mexico: Centro de Reflexion Teologica, A.C., 1992. 125 pages.
Professor Max Ortega and his associate Ana Alicia Solis de Alba propose in this book a global evaluation of the changes in the relations between the state and the unions. The book is divided into three chapters: Chapter 1 "La crisis del corporativismo y los nuevos perfiles organizativos de los sindicatos en Mexico;" Chapter 2 "Modernizacion y reorganizacion del sindicalismo oficial; Chapter 3 "Sindicalismo independiente y
resistencia sindical." There is a bibliography.
Devon G. Pena, The Terror of the Machine: Technology, Work,
Gender and Ecology on the U.S. Mexico Border (Austin: University of Texas, 1997). Notes. Bibliography. Map. Tables. 460 pages. Hardback $45, Paper $19.95.
Pena's book could be called the anarchosyndicalist, eco-feminist study of the maquiladora workers and their communities. Mostly about the mostly female maquiladora workers of Ciudad Juarez, this study is based on thirteen years of both field and library research, and is in part an institutional history of COMO, the Center for the Orientation of Women Workers (COMO) of Ciudad Juarez, and of its affiliated cooperative, SOCOSEMA, the Cooperative Society of Selectors of Materials. The book also discusses the leading figure in COMO, Guillermina Valdes Villalva. While advocating democracy, autonomy and workers' control, it fails to address key questions concerning democracy in the movements and organizations it studies. Yet in the course of this long, meandering and irritating read, one learns a good deal about the maquiladoras and the way they work.
Sonia Perez Toledo, Los Arestanos de la ciudad de Mexico, 1780-1853. Mexico:
Colegio de Mexico and Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, 1996. Maps, charts, graphs, appendices, bibliography, index of names. 300 pages.
Historians beginning with Luis Chavez Orozco argued that the artisan class had been destroyed early in the nineteenth century by a combination of the Spanish Bourbon reforms, the Mexican Independence movement, and the assault of the Enlightenment and Liberalism which looked upon the artisans's guilds as closed corporations of the old regime which had to be destroyed in order to create free men and free markets. The supposition was that the decree of 1813 which gave any man the right to exercise a trade had destroyed the guilds and led to the extinction of the artisan class. Sonia Perez Toledo demonstrates in this book that the artisans, their shops and their guilds survived well into the mid-nineteenth century and stood at the heart of Mexico City and its economy. Originally her thesis at the Colegio de Mexico, the book is influenced by the "new social history" of British historians such as E.P. Thompson and Eric Hobsbawm. However since the sources are the census, city records (actas de cabildo), the newspaper (Seminario Artistico) of the Board for the Development of Artesans (Junta de Fomento de Artesanos), and records of the Vagrant Court (Tribunal de Vagos), the artisans cannot speak for themselves. Nevertheless, this book is an important contribution to the early history of the Mexican labor movement, as well as to the history of Mexico in the nineteenth century.
W. Dirk Raat. Revoltosos. Mexico's Rebels in the United States, 1903-1923. College
Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981. [In translation: Los revoltosos: Rebeldes mexicanos en los Estados Unidos 1903-1923. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura, 1988.] Photographs, bibliography, index. 300 pages.
W. Dirk Raat's Revoltosos is a study of various Mexican political individuals and organizations operating in the U.S. and along the U.S.-Mexico border between 1903 and 1923. The central focus of the book is the activity of eight leaders of the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM). Raat he looks at relations between the PLM and the IWW, also at the American Federation of Labor, Socialist Party and anarchists. But the central focus of the book is on U.S. repression of the anarchist movements both by the state and federal government, and has detailed accounts of the trials and political pesecution of the PLM in the U.S.
Emiliano Robles Becerril, Luis Ángel Gómez, Jorge Robles, and Dale Hathaway,
Cuarenta Años de Lucha Libertaria. Mexico City: El Atajo Ediciones and Frente Auténtico del Trabajo, 2000. 131 pages.
This little book on the Authentic Labor Front--Forty Years of Libertarian Struggle--(FAT), was written by four enthusiasts of that independent Mexican abor federation. It is made up of a collection of short essays on the history of the FAT (about 60 pages) and a chronology of the FAT (another 60 pages). Jorge Robles, the anarcho-syndicalist FAT activist and author, has left on this book the imprint of both his iconoclastic intellect and his idiosyncratic style. The essays are interesting and insightful, polemical and partisan. The writing is elliptical and sometimes telegraphic, and at times it is more outline than essay. Those who are bilingual will find it an interesting companion to accompany Dale Hathaway's Allies Across the Border: Mexico's "Authentic Labor Front" and Global Solidarity (Cambridge: South End Press, 2000).
Jorge Robles and Luis Angel Gomez. De la Autonomia al Corporativismo: Memoria
Cronologica del Movimiento Obrero en Mexico: 1900-1980. (Mexico: Ediciones El Atajo, 1995.) 175 pages. Excellent 50 page bibliography.
Jorge Robles is a former university researcher and educator and Luis Angel Gomez is a university professor, both have also been activists in Mexico's independent unions. Their book is an interpretive chronology of the Mexican labor movement from 1900
to 1980. There is also an
Cuauhtemoc Ruiz. Sesenta anos del Sindicato de Euzkadi. Mexico: Sindicato
Nacional Revolucionario de Trabajadores de Euzkadi, 1995. 44 pages. Several photographs.
Cuauhtemoc Ruiz is a supporter of the Euzkadi rubber workers union. His book is a short history of the Euzkadi rubber workers union, a union which has played an important role in the militant and democratic currents of the Mexican labor movement.
Rafael Sagredo. Maria Villa (a) La Chiquita, no. 4002: Un parasito social del Porfiriato. Mexico: Cal y Arena, 1996.
Rafael Sagredo, born in Santiago Chile, received his doctorate from the Colegio de Mexico and is a professor at the Catholic University and a researcher of the National Library of Chile. His book is a biography of a Mexican prostitute Maria Villa, also known as La Chiquita who, after she was convicted of the murder of another prostitute, became prisoner number 4002. Based on her diary, the interviews of the prison psychologist, and newspaper accounts, the book discusses the institution of prostitution and the life of prostitutes in the porifirate, as well as sexual mores. Written in a popular style and without notes, the book has an extensive bibliography of literature from various countries dealing with the issue of prostitution.
Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez. Fidel: Una historia de poder. Mexico: Planeta, 1991.
287 pages. Chronology, bibliography, Index, illustrated with many photographs.
Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez is a former university professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, later a free-lance writer and the author of several books. His biography of Fidel is a serious, non-academic biography of the leader of the
Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).
Sergio G. Sanchez Diaz. El "Nuevo" Revisionismo en el Sindicalismo "De
izquierda" en Mexico entre 1982 y 1988. Mexico: Cuardernos de la Casa Chata and SEP, 1990. 244 pages. Bibliography.
Sergio Sanchez is a researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS). His book is a study of leftists in the Mexican labor movement in the 1980s, particularly in the Coordinadora Sindical Nacional (COSINA) in 1982 and 83, and the nuclear workers union (SUTIN) in the mid 1980s.
Jack Scott. Yankee Unions, Go Home! How the AFL Helped the U.S. Build an
Empire in Latin America. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1978. (Trade Unions and Imperialism in America, Volume I.) 287 pages.
Jack Scott's Yankee Unions, Go Home! is a history of the role of the U.S. labor unions in Latin America, based on secondary sources. The book provides a useful overview, and while there is no separate chapter on the U.S. unions in Mexico, there is a discussion of the Pan-American Federation of Labor. This is a rather doctrinaire Marxist or Leninist book, and useful for that perspective.
Enrique Semo. Historia Mexicana: Economia y Lucha de Clases. Mexico: Ediciones
Era. First edition 1978, many subsequent reprints. Notes, 338 pages.
Enrique Semo was a leading intellectual of the Mexican Communist Party and a serious academic historian. This book is a Marxist study in economic and social history from the colonial era to the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and into the 1920s. The book is divided into two sections: Studies of the Economy and Studies of the Class Struggle. These classic essays, several of which were originally published in journals in the 1960s, have a theoretical and historiographical character, though they are well grounded in specific historical studies.
Ana Alicia Solís de Alba, El movimiento sindical pintado de magenta:
Productividad, sexismo y neocorporativismo. Mexico: Editorial Itaca, 2002, bibliography.
Anyone studying the history or current state of the Mexican labor movement should read this important feminist study of Mexican labor. This is a book to make us all rethink our conception of the Mexican working class and union movement. Using Marxism and feminism, Solís has rethought the Mexican labor movement from a woman-centered perspective. While some will find the opening chapters and some other sections too theoretical or abstract, the book also analyzes important workers struggles both for union democracy and against employers and the state.
Salvador Sotelo Arevalo. Historia de mi vida. Autobiografia y memorias de un
maestro rural en Mexico, 1904-1965 (Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de la Revolucion Mexicana and Secretaria de Gobernacion, 1996) Introduction by Martin Sanchez and Adonai Sotelo. Notes, Photographs. 159 pages.
The autobiography of Salvador Sotelo Arevolo (1904-1988) is a fascinating account of 61 years in the life of a rural school teacher in Michoacan, from his birth in 1904 until his retirement. The book deals with his experiences in the Mexican Revolution, as an immigrant worker in California, during the Critero Rebellion, during the years of president Lazaro Cardenas, and then in post-revolutonary Mexico. As a boy, Sotelo was an admirer of the local indigenous peasant leader Miguel de la Trinidad Regalado, known as El Indio Regalado, a fighter for agrarian reform and a lieutenant of Emiliano Zapata. After Sotelo's hero was murdered and beheaded, Sotelo vowed to dedicate his life to agrarian reform. Sotelo's autobiography is a vivid and moving account of the rank and filed teachers who worked to fulfill the promise of the Mexican Revolution in the villages, the school teachers who became the spokespersons for the demands of the rural peasants and laborers. One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is its treatment of religion and the church. This is an excellent piece of testimonial literature which would be useful in Mexican history classes.
Susan Street. Maestros en movimiento: Transformaciones en la burocracia estatal
(1978-1982). Mexico: CIESAS, 1992.
Susan Street is researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS) in Guadalajara. Her book, based on first-hand interviews and observation as well as documentary research is a study of the teacher's union (SNTE) in the state of Chiapas. Street looks at the way that teachers struggled against both the union bureaucracy (charros) and the government Secretary of Education bureacracy to create new democratic structures and a new democratic consciousness. Her book is essential reading for those interested in the contemporary Mexican labor movement, as well as those interested in the origins of the recent struggles in Chiapas.
Javier Torres Pares. La Revolucion sin frontera: El partido Liberal Mexicano y las
relaciones entre el movimiento obrero de Mexico y el de Estados Unidos. 1900-1923. Mexico: Universidad Autonoma de Mexico and Ediciones y Distribuciones Hispanicas, S.A. de C.V., 1990. Bibliography, index, 259 pages.
Torres Parres graduated from UNAM and then took a doctorate in historia from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris, and is a professor of history and modern Latin America at the UNAM. His book is a study of the relations between Mexican and U.S. labor organizations, particularly between the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM) and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). His interest is in international labor solidarity, and in the mutual political influence of U.S. and Mexican labor radicals in the period between 1900 and 1923. The book is particularly good in tracing the relations between the PLM and the IWW, Socialist Party, American Federtion of Labor and U.S. anarchists such as Emma Goldman.
Jose Luis Trueba Lara. Ruta-100: Ruta de la Muerte. Mexico: Roca, 1995. 127
pages. Many photographs.
Jose Luis Trueba Lara is a Mexican journalist. His book is a sensationalistic account of the struggle in 1995 and 96 by the bus drivers of Ruta-100 in Mexico City.
Ethel Duffy Turner. Ricardo Flores Magon y el Partido Liberal Mexicano. Mexico:
Comision Nacional Editorial del C.E.N. del Partido Institucional Revolucionario, 1984. 439 pages. Appendix.
[The original edition is: Ethel Duffy Turner, Ricardo Flores agon y el Partido Liberal Mexicano. Morelia Michoacan: Editorial "Erandi," 1960.]
Ethel Duffy Turner was an American radical who worked with Ricardo Flores Magon and the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM) and for a while edited the English language page of the PLM's newspaper Regeneracion. Turner's biography of Ricardo Flores Magon remains an important primary source for the life of this Mexican anarchist revolutionary. The appendix contains articles and letters by several PLM leaders.
John Kenneth Turner, Barbarous Mexico. Introduction by Sinclair Snow. (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1984.
John Kenneth Turner was an American socialist who worked with Flores Magon and the Mexican Liberal Party. His book Barbarous Mexico, which originally appeared as a series of magazine articles in 1909, was an indictment of the regime of dictator Porfirio Diaz. Many of the chapters of this book deal with the conditions of peasants and workers in Mexico under Diaz, including the conditions of servitude and even slavery under which they worked. A classic and a primary source for the study of the revolution.
Franisco Zapata. Autonomia y subordinacion en el sindicalismo latinoamericano.
Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico and Fiedicomiso Historia de las Americas, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1993. 171 pages. Tables.
Doctor Francisco Zapata is a professor of sociology at the Colegio de Mexico. This book analyzes Latin American labor unionism in terms of economic models of development and class and populist union models, looking at the twentieth century
experience of Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Brazil, and Mexico. The book ends with a discussion of the crisis of labor unionism in Latin America and speculation about future developments.
Francisco Zapata. El Sindicalismo Mexicano Frente a la Restructuracion. Mexico:
El Colegio de Mexico and Instituto de Investigaciones de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo Social, 1995. 179 pages. Table.
In this book professor Zapata presents an analysis of the impact of the process of economic adjustment (1982-1987) and of industrial restructuring (1988-1993) on Mexican unions, looking in particular at the context of the transition from the model of
import substitution industrialization to the opening of the Mexican market to foreign competition. The book's six chapters are: Chapter I, "Sindicalismo en Mexico"; Chapter II "Mercados de trabajo, remuneraciones y empleo en la decada de los ochenta,"; Chapter III, "Politicas laborales y restructuracion economica,"; Chapter IV, "El conflicto laboral: ?arma de lucha o mecanismo de transaccion?; Chapter V "El debate sobre la reforma a la Ley Federal del Trabajo (1989-1992); Chapter VI "Sindicalismo y regimen corporativo."
Fernando Zertuche Munoz. Ricardo Flores Magon. El Sueno Alternativo. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1995. Photographs. Bibliography. 257 pages.
Fernando Zertuche is the author of several studies of Mexican political and intellectual figures. For this book Zertuche Munoz has written a 50-page biography of Ricardo Flores Magon and collected a number of his most important essays, manifestos, and letters. There is also a short bibliography of the major workers on Flores Magon.
II — Bibliography of Mexican labor — review essays.
Maria Cristina Bayon. El sindicalismo automotriz mexicano frente
a un nuevo escenario: una perspective desde los liderazgos. Mexico: Facultad Latinoamricana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) and Juan Pablos Editor, 1997. 207 pages. Notes, bibliography.
Maria Cristina Bayon's book represents an important contribution both to the study of the automobile industry and to the more general discussion of the nature of Mexican labor unions. Bayon's book opens with a detailed discussion of the state of the Mexican auto industry, and then moves to a fascinating discussion of the state of the Mexican auto workers' unions, based largely on interviews with local union leaders.
Mexico's auto industry is central to the country's economy, Bayon explains. In 1994 Mexico ranked 12th among 15 coutrnies which produced 92 percent of all cars. Mexico has 20 assembly plants in 11 states, 500 autoparts plants, and 1,000 distributors. Between 1990 and 1995 the auto industry invested more then seven billion dollars in Mexico. The industry represents 10 percent of the Mexican gross national product, and in 1994 generated 35 percent of manfacturing expoert and 18 percent of total exports. Auto exports are second only to petroleum in their importance to the Mexican economy. The Mexican auto industry is dominated by foreign multinational corporations such as Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and Nissan. The only important Mexican company is Dina.
Bayon explains that Mexican auto workers have no national auto workers' union, but rather find themselves divided into company or plant unions which keep workers isolated. Bayon delivers a scathing criticism of Mexico's "corporative" labor unions such as the Confederation of Mexico Workers (CTM) which are controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party and the Mexican government. Bayon shows how these authoritarian unions, working with the government and the employers, made it nearly impossible for Mexican workers to resist the restructing of the national economy and of the auto industry during the 1980s and 90s.
During those years employers in Mexico introduced new technologies, and new forms of work organization such as quality circles and team concept. But without genuine labor unions to negotiate these issues, Mexican workers found that they were expected to work harder, for longer hours, and at a faster pace while accepting lower wages. The few more democratic or independent unions could not fight alone, nor did they have an adequate strategy to do so. The result has been that the auto workers remain weak, divided, unable to win higher wages and with unions that have little presence in the plant.
Bayon describes how the old, authoritarian unions allied with the PRI declined during the 1980s, and how the corporations succeeded in imposing a unilateral relationship, dictating terms to the unions. Her alternative is the creation of a new more democratic union movement, with both national and international ties; strong independent unions which take up the issue of productivity, and negotiate cooperation in improving productivity, as a way of creating a really bilateral relationship between the corporations and the workers.
While having learned much from Bayon's description, we reject her prescription. We would suggest there is another alternative: a radical, democratic labor movement which fights to suppress competition through national and international cooperation, while at the same time striving to take control over production, quality and decision making away from management. The long term goal of the labor movement should not be a bilateral union-coporation relationship, but a diffeent unilateral relationship, one where working people democratically manage a collectively owned and controlled economy.
Anyone interested in either the auto industry or Mexican labor unions should read this very informative and important study.
Charles Bergquist, Labor and the Course of American Democracy:
U.S. History in Latin American Perspective. New York: Verso, 1996. Tables, illustrations, photographs. Recommendations for furthering reading. 209 pages. $20 paper/$60 hardbound.
Charles Bergquist's Labor and the Course of American Democracy: U.S. History in Latin American Perspective brings together five essays dealing with the relationship between the U.S. and Latin American all organized around the theme of the centrality of labor. The author puts the issues of democracy, social equality, and internationalism at the center of his discussion, arguing for democratic reform, and I think it would not be far wrong to call this a social democratic interpretation of U.S.-Latin American history. Rejecting both laissez-faire capitalism and Leninist Communism, Bergquist argues for a more democratic and egalitarian relationship between the people of the United States and those of Latin America.
Bergquist's book, outlined below, also represents an attempt to bring a more interdisciplinary approach to both U.S. and Latin American history, arguing that ultimately one cannot be a very good historian of the United States, without taking Latin America into account, and visa-versa; similarly he contends that one would be a better diplomatic historian by also doing labor history simultaneously. Finally Bergquist suggests that academic historians should write in such a way as to make their scholarly writings more available to the general reader.
Bergquist has organized this book around the literature; these are essays in historiography. Certainly Bergquist knows this classic literature inside out, and does a terrific job of presenting the material, as if one were listening to him in a seminar. His historical arguments about the U.S. and Latin America with their emphasis on the centrality of economic issues and the relationship between domestic and foreign economic and political issues, I think, mostly correct. His comments on the weaknesses of U.S. labor history in incorporating the issue of imperialism are right on target. Unfortunately, I think, the tone of the book is liberal, academic and edifying rather than radical, popular and engaging as it might have been.
While this book has a very compelling central question--the relation of workers and unions to foreign policy and their impact on U.S.-Latin American history--the author tends to deal with these questions in very broad and general way that seems more informed by the debates of the 1960 or 1970s than those of the 1990s or the coming millennium. Bergquist, for example, does not explore the centrality of the conflicts between the labor bureaucracy and the workers, the importance of alliances between workers and the social movements, or the significance of the changing character of labor around the world as it becomes more female and more multicultural almost everywhere. Contemporary issues--control, gender, globalism, post-modernism--are quite literally tacked on to the book's last few pages, rather than being integrated into the discussion.
In each of the first four essays, Bergquist organizes his discussion around a critical review of important works on Latin American history. The first essay, "The Paradox of American Development," dealing with the role of race in U.S.-Latin American history, takes off from Samuel Flagg Bemis's The Latin American Policy of the United States (New York, 1943) and Eric Williams's Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill, 1944). In this essay, Bergquist argues that Bemis's book, while in many respects the best introduction to the subject, was based on racial, climatic and cultural assumptions, assumptions successfully challenged by Williams who focussed on exploitative economic relationships.
The second essay, "The Social Origins of U.S. Expansionism," uses Walter LaFeber's The New Empire, "the best single study of the origins of U.S. imperialism," as it's spring board, but then turns to look at Democratic Promise: The Populist America by Lawrence Goodwyn (1976), Workers' Control in America by David Montgomery (1979), and Segmented Work, Divided Workers by David Gordon, Richard Eduards and Michael Reich (1979). In this essay Bergquist argues that LaFeber's political, economic, and intellectual history made the case for the centrality of imperialism to the maturing U.S. economy, but that U.S. labor historians have tended to ignore that argument. Labor historians should have shown how U.S. workers' struggles both shaped and were shaped by the rise of U.S. imperialism, but instead tended to ignore the issue.
Bergquist suggests that Philip Foner's "orthodox Marxist-Leninist interpretation" could be a partial corrective to Goodwyn, Mongtgomery, Gordon et al, but Bergquist believes that Foner, like Lenin, is too much of an economic determinist. Bergquist also criticizes David Brody, who saw how labor struggles led to imperialism, but could not understand how imperialism led back to labor struggles. Bergquist argues that imperialism affected many aspects of U.S. society--such as industrial growth and immigration--but that imperial domination in the Americas also gave the U.S. elite the resources and the confidence to face down the challenge from labor unions and socialists. Perhaps because the questions discussed here are close to my own interests, I particularly liked this essay.
The third essay, "Latin American Revolution, US Response," uses liberal Cole Blasier's The Hovering Giant (1976) and conservative Jeane Kirkpatrick's Dictatorships and Double Standards (1982) to show how U.S. historians have emphasized security issues over economic issues. (He mentions Jorge Castaneda's Utopia Disarmed as a Latin American version of the same sort of argument.) Bergquist argues that U.S. hostility to Latin American revolutions had more to do with threats to U.S. corporations' economic interests than challenges to U.S. security concerns.
The fourth essay dealing with cultural criticism seems rather out of place in this collection focussing diplomatic or labor history. Bergquist organizes this chapter around a critical review of Ariel Dorfman's and Armand Mattelart's How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic (1971, 1975). Chilean Marxists Dorfman and Mattelart, influenced by the Frankfurt School and a radical version of dependency theory, had argued that Donald Duck spread "racist and ethnocentric values that reinforce and perpetuate an exploitative capitalist world." (119) Bergquist contends that Dorfman and Mattelart give a reading of Donald Duck which is "intellectually misleading, politically suspect, and fundamentally undemocratic." (121).
Dorfman and Mattelart, says Bergquist, never ask: Why was Donald Duck so popular? Bergquist contends that cartoonist Carl Barks's genius was to show the democratic struggle of Donald and the nephews against the authoritarian and acquisitive Scrooge. Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie symbolized "rebellion against authority" and that gave the cartoons and comic strip its appeal. By following the Frankfurt School and dependency theory, Dorfman and Mattelart recognized the imperialist message, but missed the democratic content of Disney and his ducks. From this Bergquist draws the conclusion about dependency theory: "The nationalist capitalist reformers among them placed their faith in a cadre of technocratic bureaucrats, the Marxists in vanguard political parties. Both groups exalted the role of state power and neglected the idea that truly democratic organization of society must emanate from participatory institutions in the workplace and the local community." (157). Long live Huey, Dewey and Louie and their participatory-democratic-anarchosyndicialist commune! (I always like those ducks.)
In his final chapter, Bergquist set his historiographical method aside, writing a straight forward essay about the history of the U.S. labor movement. Influenced by David Brody among others, the essay describes the apparent rise and definite fall of U.S. labor in since World War II. Unfortunately Bergquist did not turn to Stanley Aronowitz, Kim Moody, Staughton Lynd or others who might have helped him also describe the way in which the employers and labor bureaucracy took control of the unions from the workers. In this final section Bergquist mentions very much in passing issues of gender, globalism, and post-modernism and alludes to the "new labor history," though by that he seems to mean the "old new labor history" of Thompson and Gutman. Unfortunately, Bergquist really has little to say about gender or globalism, topics which could have enriched his arguments throughout. (Those interested in picking up where Bergquist leaves off might try Kim Moody's new book Workers in a Lean World: Unions in the International Economy [New York: Verso, 1997].)
Some general readers might be attracted to this book, but unfortunately Bergquist did not follow his own advice and write for the general reader. While the book is quite very lucidly written, it is not a popular presentation. This is an historians book, organized around historiography, and its real appeal should be to graduate student for whom it provides an intelligent and insightful commentary on a dozen important books in Latin American studies. I would think it difficult to use this book with undergraduate for whom it would be too dry; there are few stories here. U.S. labor and social historians could read the second chapter profitably, and should take its arguments to heart. Major research libraries should certainly acquire this book for their collections.
James D. Cockcroft. Mexico’s Hope: An Encounter with Politics and History. New
York: Monthly Review, 1998. 435 pages; tables, notes; index.
Jim Cockcroft has written over a score of books which have educated a generation or two of Americans about Mexico, Latin America, and Latinos in the United States. He began his career brilliantly with the Intellectual Precursors of the Mexican Revolution: 1900-1913 and has periodically punctuated his work with some major revision of our understanding of Mexican history. Fifteen years ago Cockcroft published what was at the time the best historical analysis of Mexico available: Mexico: Class Formation, Capital Accumulation and the State (New York, Monthly Review, 1983). Over the years I recommended it scores of people as the most comprehensive and compelling explanation of the economic, social and political forces that shaped Mexico. But now I will have to recommend a new and better book.
Cockcroft—-having written a dozen books in the meantime-—has returned to write a new, and yet more comprehensive and compelling synthesis: Mexico’s Hope: An Encounter with Politics and History. What began as a re-writing of the earlier book became an entirely new work, one which incorporates not only recent scholarship, but also reflects the impact of new social movements, particularly those of indigenous people and women. This is a history of Mexico informed by the struggle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and by the women who work in the maquiladoras on the U.S.-Mexico border. It is a history of the Mexican people in all of their diversity.
At the heart of Mexico’s Hope is Cockcroft’s view that capital accumulation, class struggle, revolution and reaction have driven Mexico’s history as he traces it through the conquest, the colonial period, the Bourbon reforms, the Independence struggle, the Reform, the Porfirian dictatorship, the Revolution, and now through the era of neo-liberalism. This is fundamentally a political-economic history, a Marxist history, which sees capitalism and its combined and uneven development as the driving force of Mexico’s 500 years of history. In Cockcroft’s history ordinary men and women engaged in the daily struggle for survival not only shape their own lives but also shape Mexico and its history. But they do so not simply as they wish, but within the context of Mexico’s particular development, in many ways a distorted development, the legacy of Spain’s relative backwardness, a series of unfinished revolutions, and a failed great leap forward into the neo-liberal future.
But what strikes me as particularly original about Mexico’s Hope is Cockcroft’s integration of an historical materialist analysis (which he had done so well in his earlier book) with feminist and indigenist perspectives, creating a new synthetic understanding of Mexican history. In Mexico’s Hope women and Indians have become integral to the texture of life, to the history of the country, to questions of power and politics as they so seldom appear in other histories. While maintaining his convincing Marxist analysis of Mexico’s economic development, Cockcroft has also written a multicultural and gendered history of Mexico which responds to the contemporary problematic.
Yet, above all, this book is a good read. The political- economic, indigenous and women's viewpoints are not just juxtaposed, they are analytically integrated in a vigorous prose. Clearly and forcefully written, accompanied by 17 tables, and with extensive notes, Cockcroft’s Mexico’s Hope represents the most sophisticated history of Mexico available to the general reader. Mexico’s Hope will no doubt become a standard in Latin American and Mexican history courses, but labor unionists, human rights workers, social movement activists, and anyone interested in our nearest neighbor should buy and read this book. University, high school and public libraries should add this book to their collections, for it will find many readers.
Maria Lorena Cook. Organizing Dissent: Unions, the State, and the Democratic Teachers' Movement in Mexico. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. Photographs, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. 359 pages.
The teachers' movement, it could be argued, has been the single most important labor movement in Mexico in the last twenty years. The movement in the teachers union (el SNTE), Mexico's largest labor union, began in the mid-1970s and came to involve tens of thousands of teachers in marches, demonstrations, sit-ins (plantones) strikes, and myriad other forms of confrontation with their employer, the Secretary of Public Education (SEP). These were usually struggles for higher wages and better benefits, but above all for union democracy.
Over a period of fifteen years rank and file teachers in the state of Chiapas and Oaxaca, and to a lesser degree in other states, as well in Mexico City, succeeded not only in creating a mass movement, but more remarkably in an authoritarian regime such as Mexico's, in creating an on-going national rank-and-file organization, the National Coordinating Committee (la CNTE) of the teachers union. La CNTE succeeded in winning control of the Chiapas and Oaxaca state organizations, and later played a key role in bringing down the dictatorial regime of Carlos Jonguitud Barrios, head of Vanguardia Revolucionaria, the political machine that controlled the union.
Maria Lorena Cook, assistant professor at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, asked, "How was this possible?" And in response to that question has written an excellent account of this important rank and file labor movement. Most studies of social movements or of labor reform movements ignore or neglect the importance of the movement's own organizational structures, procedures and values, but Cook puts those issues at the very center of her study. What makes this book important is its emphasis on the democratic self-organization of the teachers movement as essential not only to its survival, but also to the achievement of its goals of democratizing the union, and--at least for some of its members-- the larger goal of democratizing Mexican society.
After the excellent introduction come two chapters which some lay readers may find tedious. The first two chapters show the origins of this book in her dissertation, and review half a dozen theories of social movements, particularly in authoritarian societies. The point of those chapters seems to be the truism that workers take advantage of differences between the government, the employer, and the union bureaucracy to advance their cause.
However, Cook goes on to tell in a quite readable and interesting style the important history of this movement, beginning with the struggle of indigenous bi-lingual teachers in the early 1970s, through the organization of la CNTE in 1979, to the great teacher mobilizations of the early 1980s, and finally the overthrow of Jonguitud Barrios and Vanguardia in 1989. (The history is told in Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 7.)
The heart of this book, however, is Chapter 6, "Sustaining the Movement: Democracy as a Survival Strategy," in which Cook argues that democracy became central to the teachers movement. Cook makes a valuable contribution by specifying the democratic structures, procedures and values that this movement created.
La CNTE itself was a "coordinadora" a "loose network of regional dissident movements in state and federal locals of the SNTE." (145) La CNTE consciously decided not to attempt to form a rival independent union--a strategy adopted by some other union reform movements in this period--rather la CNTE defined itself as an opposition current within the official union, fighting for the right to elect its own local leaders. La CNTE's strategy was usually moderate and legalistic, but based on constant mobilization of the membership to pressure the employer and the state. The movement's central demand became the members' right to control their own local unions.
How did it happen that la CNTE adopted profoundly democratic procedures and values? First, the teachers knew what they were against: the dictatorship of Jonguitud Barrios and his political machine Vanguardia. They were opposed to the dictator and that made them democrats at least in theory. Second, since Jonguitud Barrios and Vanguardia represented the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) inside the union, the teachers decided they wanted la CNTE to be independent of political parties. Political organizations, mostly Maoists, Trotskyist, and Communists (usually acting under the cover of some caucus name) were permitted to operate within the CNTE, but those groups had only one vote, compared with five for each of the "struggle committees" made up of rank and file members. (147) Thus la CNTE took advantage of the political groups' analyses and strategies, without necessarily being controlled by them. "Most of the time the existence of political factions within the movement had a positive impact," says Cook. (250) Perhaps because the PRI and Vanguardia were centralized organizations, la CNTE adopted the form of a decentralized coalition.
Since this was a movement which constantly mobilized the teachers, the basic organizational form of la CNTE was the local "struggle committee" or regional "central councils of struggle," extra-legal forms of organization not recognized by the union statutes. There might also be "municipal struggle committees" and strike committees, and "brigades," teams of teachers who carried information and support to other areas. La CNTE's members demanded that they be consulted and have a vote on decisions, and they felt that leaders should not be fully trusted.
By the mid-1980s both the Chiapas and Oaxaca rank and file movements succeeded in winning control of the state conventions and the executive committees. How did they then attempt to democratize the union? First of all, la CNTE did not disband as a rank and file organization, feeling that the struggle committees and councils would continue to play an important role, even though the reformers now had control of the official structure. They decided to have two structures, one legal and official, the other legal and unofficial. In the event they lost control of the state-wide local, they would still have their parallel organization.
Second, they made changes in the official structure as well. Most important, the state-wide assembly became the ruling body, rather than the smaller state executive committee. The state-wide assembly schedule was changed so that it met once a month or more often if necessary, and the assembly was expanded to include not only the official representatives, but also rank and filers from the coordinadora. Individual offices were replaced with collective commissions, to spread the knowledge and the responsibility. Also rank and filers were incorporated into these collective commissions along side elected officials, to keep everybody honest.
The membership demanded the right to make decisions. In the state assembly itself, delegates were required to take the debate back to their local areas before voting and adopting a decision. This process of "consulta" or consulting with the rank and file was essential to la CNTE's vision of democracy. Delegates to state assemblies often had to produce an "aval," a document proving that they had actually consulted with their members and were representing their position. "It was this daily practice of discussion and decision making that was at the root of the new political consciousness movement leaders wanted to instill in union members." (228)
In addition to looking at union organization and procedure, Cook also looked at the role of women and ethnic minorities in this process of building a democratic movement. Though indigenous bilingual teachers had been among the earliest activists in the contemporary teachers union movement, the Indians seldom became the leaders of la CNTE. "Teachers from the Mixe, Mixteco, and Triqui regions of the Sierra Juarez became the foot soldiers, but never the officers of the emerging movement," writes Cook. (233) In part this came from the condescension of other Indians: "In spite of the indigenous ethnic background of most teachers in the state, urbanized and more highly educated Zapotecs, Mixtecos and mestizos in the teachers' movement tended to treat members of the indigenous teachers' coalition with a high degree of paternalism." (234) Nevertheless, Cook argues that some of the democratic qualities of the Chiapas and Oaxaca movements may have come from indigenous traditions of democratic self-government.
Similarly, while women make up a majority of teachers, or a very large minority in some states and more rural areas, few women were found among the rank and file leaders, at least initially, this despite the fact that women played a key role in mobilizations. "In spite of this large presence of women in the union, the representation of women in leadership positions at both local and national levels has been highly disproportional in favor of men," Cook found. (235). However, Cook also found that women's participation in leadership grew, apparently as a result of the movement's generally democratic practices.
Cook argues that despite such weaknesses, the movement created a democratic collective identity which united men and women, primary and secondary school teachers, bilingual indigenous and urban teachers. Moreover, the teachers developed a sense of identity with the parents, students, the community, and other workers. Cook argues that not only was their a movement identity, but also a "greater class consciousness." (243)
While this was an impressive movement, it was not without its faults and weaknesses. One weakness, Cook explains, was its neglect of educational issues such as pedagogy and curriculum. Mostly concerned with wages, benefits, and union democracy, the teachers spent little time on their professional concerns. Also, while teachers and parents might appear to be natural allies, sometimes the teachers' job actions, strikes, demonstrations and meetings meant that in certain periods they spent little time teaching, leading to friction with parents.
In 1989 la CNTE played a key role in organizing huge teacher demonstrations in Mexico City which brought down Jonguitud Barrios. But, Cook points out, la CNTE failed to provide leadership at that crucial moment. Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari succeeded in installing as the new union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, a member of Jonguitud's Vanguardia, and a person whom some believed to be responsible for the assassination of a la CNTE activist. Gordillo then successfully divided la CNTE's leadership, winning some of them to join her new executive committee, while isolating others. La CNTE split into several rival currents, while the rank and file demobilized.
Ironically by 1990 the union had become more democratic and more independent of the PRI, but the union also became closer to president Salinas, and became part of the model union federation he was sponsoring which advocated higher productivity and flexibility. Salinas, it could be argued, had successfully used la CNTE to help unseat Jonguitud--an old dinosaur who would have resisted Salinas's "modernization" of labor union contracts and attitudes--and replaced him with Gordillo who was a more pliant union official. (She is now a leader of the Foro group of unions and at this moment, as head of FNOP, playing a key role for the PRI in the up-coming elections.)
Cook's book leaves us with a number of questions. First, if these groups succeeded in building such strong democratic organizations, why in the end did the teachers fail to control their leaders, many of whom made deals with Gordillo and the PRI?
Second, why did leaders formed by such a movement make such deals? What was the role of the Maoists, Trotskyists, Communists, and of the National Democratic Front (FND) which became the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in the deals with Gordillo? What was the relationship between the democratic social movement and the political reform movement and various self-conceived revolutionary movements? Perhaps the greatest merit of Cook's book is that it leads us to want to know more and understand better.
This book takes a place in studies of the teachers union alongside Susan Street's Maestros en movimiento: Transformaciones en la burocracia estatal 1978-1982 (Mexico: CIESAS, 1992) and in general Mexican labor studies is in a class with Kevin J. Middlebrook's important The Paradox of Revolution: Labor, the State and Authoritarianism in Mexico (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1995). Anyone interested in Mexican labor today should get and read this book.
Dale Hathaway. Allies Across the Border: Mexico’s “Authentic Labor Front” and
Global Solidarity (Cambridge, Mass.: South end Press, 2000. Notes, index, graph. 267 pages.
Dale Hathaway, a community activist and professor of political science at Butler University in Indianapolis, has written a readable, useful account of Mexico's most politically important independent labor union federation the Authentic Labor Front or FAT. Hathaway sets his history of the FAT in the context of the new movement's fight against corporate globalization, a movement in which the FAT has played an enormously important role. Based on interviews with FAT leaders and activists, original documents, and a wide-array of secondary sources, this is both a good read and a reliable historical account.
The book opens with the Battle of Seattle in November 1999 and closes with a discussion of the importance of international solidarity in the era of globalization. Using that as the framework, Hathaway not only tells the story of the union, but also places it in the context of the Mexican labor and political system, of economic globalization, and of the new movements for international labor solidarity. In doing so, he has written a book that is essential reading for Canadian and U.S. labor union activists, and for all of those interested in the Mexican labor union movement.
The FAT was founded in October of 1960 as a Christian labor union, inspired by Roman Catholic social teachings. The union established itself in Leon, Guanajuato, then Mexico's shoe manufacturing center and soon spread to the garment shops in Irapuato. From there the union spread to Chihuahua in Northern Mexico, the home of several of its current leaders.
The early FAT leaders such as Nicolas Medina and Antonio Velazquez found that they had to fight not only the employers but also the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and the Mexican labor authorities, all of whom colluded to defeat the new independent labor union.
During the late 1960s the combination of Liberation Theology, the student movement of 1968, and the working class upsurge known in Mexico as the "worker insurgence" transformed the FAT into a secular, militant labor union. In the 1970s the FAT fought for contracts in auto-parts plants such as Spicer, but also developed a radical syndicalist ideology based on the notions of workers' democracy and self-management (or autogestion as it is sometimes called).
During the economic crises of the 1980s, the FAT like other unions came under pressure to enter into productivity partnerships with employers like Sealed Power. While the FAT attempted to bargain from as democratic and strong a position as possible, still the union's experience with such programs was mixed at best.
In the 1990s, the FAT became an important leader of forces fighting to develop an independent labor union movement and ties of international labor solidarity with unions in Canada and the United States. The FAT participated in the union forums of the early 1990s, and joined the independent labor federation, the National Union of Workers (UNT) where it played a leading role as a voice for workers' democracy.
In addition to organizing labor unions, the FAT also organized peasants and farmers in its campesino sector, organized cooperative ventures in the cooperative sector, and brought together low-income community people in its colonos, or neighborhood sector. In addition the FAT has been a leader in organizing and empowering women to take leading role in their communities, their workplaces and in their unions. Finally, the FAT has been pillar of the Mexican Network on Free Trade (RMALC), an alliance of labor and environmental groups that fought against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
When social struggles by Mayan peasants in Chiapas and bankrupt farmers in Zacatecas and Jalisco erupted in the 1990s, the FAT worked with both the Zapatistas and el Barzon (which grew to be a large, national organizational or debtors) in their movements for social justice for the rural producers. But more than any other Mexican labor organization, the FAT has sought out alliances with Canadian and Mexican workers. In particular, it created a strategic organizing alliance with the United Electrical Workers (UE) to support organizing efforts both in Mexico and the United States. The mutual and reciprocal relations between those two unions have become a model for labor unionists in North America and around the world.
Hathaway's book will be must reading for U.S. and Canadian unionists, and for all of those working for international solidarity as an alternative to corporate political domination and exploitation. Clearly and directly written, this book is readily accessible for all audiences. Professors of political science, economics, labor studies, and Latin American studies will want to use this book in classes with both undergraduate and graduate students.
Donald C. Hodges. Mexican Anarchism After the Revolution. Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1995. Notes, index 251 pages.
Donald C. Hodges is the author of several books on the politics of Mexico and Nicaragua, founding editor of Social Theory and Practice and professor of philosophy and political science at Florida State University. Many readers will have read
several years ago Hodges' and Ross Gandy's interesting book Mexico 1910-1982: Reform or Revolution?
Mexican Anarchism After the Revolution claims to be a history of anarchism in contemporary Mexico. But in reality this book is really two things. The first half of the book is a biography of Ruben Jaramillo and a political history of his radical movement in Morelos from the 1930s to the 1960s. The second half of Hodges's book is a fundamentally confused and confusing essay on Mexican political theory and leftist organizations. Let me take up these two parts of the book in that order.
What is new, interesting and valuable in this book is Hodges's account of Ruben Jaramillo's peasant movement in the state of Morelos. Using interviews with participants and previously unpublished documents, Hodges has written an important chapter in Mexican social history and political movements.
The story is a fascinating one which goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. William O. Jenkins, an American, became the owner of the gigantic Civil and Industrial Company of Atencingo, Puebla, not far from the old Zapatista territory in
Morelos. Jenkins who also managed this sugar plantation was a despot who sometimes used pistoleros or gun thugs to control the peasants and sugar mill workers.
Jenkins's employees, Celestino Espinosa Flores, his wife Dolores Campos de Espinosa (Dona Lola), and their son Rafael Espinosa Campos organized the independent, underground Sindicato Karl Marx, to fight Jenkins and the company. When Celestino died and Rafael was murdered by Jenkins's thugs, Dona Lola continued to lead the labor union. Eventually Dona Lola and the union successfully pressured the Mexican government which eventually wrested 115,000 hectares of land from Jenkins in 1934, and his last 8,000 hectares in 1938. Jenkins held on to the sugar mill, and in 1945 his gunmen killed Dona Lola.
The organizers and activists in the Karl Marx union included followers of the anarchist Ricardo Flores Magon and members of the Mexican Communist Party. One young man who became active in the movement was Ruben Jaramillo, who would later gain national attention as the leader of a broad movement for land reform in Morelos. Jaramillo, originally influenced by Flores Magon, became at various times a Communist, a mason, and a Methodist preachers, but throughout remained a leader of the peasant land reform movements of Puebla and Morelos.
In 1943 Jaramillo recruited peasants, including former Zapatistas, to a radical land reform movement, and published the "Plan de Cerro Prieto," to explain the rebellion. After a failed attempt at armed uprising, Jaramillo organized the Agrarian Labor
Party of Morelos in October 1945 and ran as its candidate for governor, and lost. In 1952 Jaramillo and his Agrarian Labor Party joined the Federation of Peoples Parties that supported Gen. Miguel Henriquez Guzman in his campaign for president against the official candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Two years later in March of 1954, Jaramillo lead an uprising, attacking the village of Ticuman. The movement was suppressed, and Jaramillo was jailed, but later released under an
amnesty granted by President designate Lopez Mateos in 1958.
Still Jaramillo did not give up his organizing activities. In February of 1960, Jaramillo organized a series of peasant land seizures which came into conflict with the interests of
politically connected businessmen. Not only had Jaramillo threatened the economic interests of leaders of the PRI and big business, but he had also expressed sympathy for Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, and threatened to embarrass the Mexican
government by asking for funds from John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress. The state was no longer prepared to put up with him. In 1962 Jaramillo, his wife and their three children were kidnapped and then murdered at the ancient city of Xochicalo by Mexican Army officer Jose Martinez, who was supported by head of the state judicial police Heriberto Espinosa.
In this book, Hodges explores the political biographies of Jaramillo and his associates, and publishes the previously unknown Plan of Cerro Prieto. The story is a good one, but unfortunately Hodges's explanation and interpretation of events is not. Hodges, who sees Ruben Jaramillo as an anarchist, attempts to make Jaramillo the bridge between the anarchism of Ricardo Flores Magon and the Mexican new left of the 1960s and 70s which he also sees as anarchist. But the problem is that the facts of Jaramillo's biography simply will not bear the weight that Hodges wants to put on them. Jaramillo, an inspiring radical, appears to have no consistent ideology as his wanderings between the masons, Methodism, Mexican nationalism and Communism clearly indicate. And he was certainly not an anarchist as his membership in several political parties, participation in elections campaigns, and calls for the nationalization of property would indicate.
The problem is that, as we see in the second half of this book, a panorama of Mexican political theory and practice, Hodges uses the word "anarchism" to mean any radical political theory or leftist organization which appeals to him. For Hodges, "anarchism" means simply, "What I like" or "What I support." And Hodges likes all sorts of political theories and social movements which he then defines as anarchist. These include the genuine anarchism of Ricardo Flores Magon, the radical peasant communalism of Emiliano Zapata, the peasant rebellions of Genaro Vazquez and Lucio Cabanas in the 1960s and 70s, the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the Stalinist Communist Party's so-called "third period" from 1929 to 1935, Mao Tse-Tung's Communism of the Long March of the 1930s and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, Trotskyism, the Mexican terrorists of the September 23 Communist League, and finally, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). For Hodges, all of these different movements become expressions, albeit not always complete expressions, of what he calls anarchism. So the reader will not think I am exaggerating, led me give a few examples of Hodges's interpretations:
*Hodges writes that the National Liberation Movement led by former Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas represented "the legacy of Ricardo Flores Magon." (p. 81)
*"...the Cuban Revolution contributed to reviving vestiges of Magonism latent in the [Mexican Communist] Party." ( p. 86
*Lucio Cabanas's Revolutionary National Civic Association"...qualifies as 'anarcho-Castroite' [sic] because of its reliance on direct action and struggle for a new social order." (p. 103)
*"In adopting Guevarism as their credo, [Lucio] Cabanas and [Genaro] Vazquez unknowingly committed themselves to a philosophy of guerrilla warfare with an anarchist dimension." (p. 105)
*"Most of Mexico's leaders in urban guerrilla warfare eventually joined the umbrella organization, the September 23 Communist League. They also subscribed to its unique mix of anarchist and communist themes." (p. 130)
*"Maoism stand out among the heterodox marxisms as having the greatest affinity for anarchism." (p. 139)
*"The anarchist character of the popular defense committees [such as the Chihuahua Popular Defense Committee] should be evident." (p. 146)
*"Like the guerrillas in neighboring Guatemala, the EZLN embraced a Maoist strategy with a strong dose of anarchism." (p.193).
In a chapter on anarchist political theory, Hodges suggests that Spanish anarchist Abraham Guillen, Trotskyists Jose Revueltas, Manuel Aguilar Mora, and Adolfo Gilly, the Catholic theologian and philosopher Jose Porfirio Miranda, the communist philosopher Enrique Gonzalez Rojo, the Viennese priest and educator Ivan Illich, and the socialist publisher Manuel Lopez Gallo all somehow contributed to the Mexican anarchist current. Hodges ends his book ends with a postscript on the Zapatista Army
of National Liberation (EZLN) and the Chiapas Rebellion of 1994 in which the Subcomandante Marcos and the EZLN, which Hodges likes, are also defined as anarchist.
This blurring of all intellectual and political distinctions is both bad history and bad political theory. Hodges wants to argue that throughout Mexican history there has been a significant anarchist undercurrent which reappears in all moments of crisis to provide inspiration to revolutionary movements. The problem is that this is simply not true. If anarchism means anything, it means a rejection of political parties and the state. Anarchism was a revolutionary theory of Proudhon and Bakunin, of Kropotkin and Malatesta which stood for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, religion and the state.
But anarchists rejected the organization of political parties as the means to do so. Strongest in Eastern and Southern Europe, and particularly in Italy and Spain, anarchism became an important ideological current in Latin America, including Mexico.
In Mexico anarchism was introduced in the mid-19th century, and perhaps became the dominant radical current by the early 20th century. Ricardo Flores Magon, his Mexican Liberal Party and his newspaper Regeneracion evolved from liberalism to anarchism, and played an important role in the opening phase of the Mexican Revolution. But during the course of the Mexican Revolution the nationalist forces succeeded in absorbing and neutralizing both the Mexican Liberal Party and the anarcho-syndicalists of the House of the World Worker in Mexico. Anarchism then virtually ceased to exist as a political current, Hodges claims notwithstanding. The partial survival of anarchist ideas in the movements in Morelos in the 1930s or among a few Communist Party members even later is interesting, but does not have the significance Hodges wants to attribute to it.
Mexican anarchism was more or less eliminated from the Mexican political spectrum during the 1930s by the rise of nationalism and Stalinist Communism, never to reappear as a significant force. Certainly other Mexican political currents such as Stalinist Communism, Maoism, and Trotskyism were all in different ways utterly antithetical to any genuine anarchist theory or political movement. All advocated building political
parties, struggling for state power, and attempting to build some new kind of state. Nearly all believed in creating a parliamentary political party and participating in elections.
None of this could be farther from anarchism.
Most disturbing to me, however, are the ethical and political issues raised in the book. Several times Hodges expresseshis admiration for Mexican revolutionary groups which engaged in kidnappings and assassinations. At times Hodges seems to delight in this use of such violence which he calls "direct action." Hodges seems to miss the point that these groups some of which were inspired by Che Guevara's foco theory, turned to kidnapping and violence as a substitute for the organizing of peasants or workers, as an alternative to building social movements for democracy or social justice. Such "direct action" violence was the antithesis of a genuine mass revolutionary movement such as had occurred, say, during the Paris Commune or the Russian Revolution.
In this book Hodges explains that he himself re-joined the Communist Party in 1968, apparently thinking it important to locate himself in the current of anarchists working within the Communist Party. (p.189) In his own mind, Hodges justified his membership in the Communist Party in terms of his support for the Cuban Revolution, and his anarchist principles. But Hodges joined the Communist Party to support Cuba just at the moment that Cuba supported the Soviet Union in the violent suppression of the Czechoslovakian reform movement. Communism was from the 1930s to the 1960s a world movement which included the murderous dictatorships of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China and Vietnam. One has to wonder, and to ask Donald Hodges, what kind of anarchism is this?
Edward C. Lorenzo. Defining Global Justice: The History of U.S. International
Labor Standards Policy. Notre Dame, Indiana, 2001. Pp. x, 318. Index.
Edward C. Lorenz’s Defining Global Justice gives us the first attempt at a broad overview of the history of the role of the United States in the International Labor Organization. Based on an impressive command of a wide variety of sources, this well organized and clearly written account explains how the social gospel movement, progressive era reformers, academics and attorneys, feminists and consumers, and labor unions attempted to shape an international organization that could establish standards to protect workers around the world.
Lorenz explains how organizations such as the American Association for Labor Legislation and the National Consumer’s League worked to influence ILO policy. His particular strength lies in showing the role of policy makers, political leaders and ILO officials. One such figure is Republican Party Progressive and former New Hampshire governor John Winant, who would eventually serve as ILO director. Lorenz shows how Winant’s empirical approach provided leadership to the ILO between the 1930s and 1950s.
Yet, while he starts with a story about exploitation in the Mexican maquiladoras, and writes from a position of sympathy with workers, Lorenz’s approach to analyzing the history of the U.S. and ILO–and most important what to make of that history–prove inadequate. Lorenz cannot break with the Cold War framework that focuses on the role of the U.S. and the struggle against Communism. He writes about the Soviet’s state-controlled labor unions and lack of workers’ rights, but fails to mention the role of the AFL-CIO in backing the State Department and the CIA in thwarting radical nationalist and leftist labor movements in developing countries. Not surprisingly then, Lorenz praises George Meany as a genuine populist leader of the labor movement who advanced humanist ideals, rather than seeing him as partner of the U.S. State Department and American corporations.
Lorenz believes that the progressive coalitions of earlier eras, and Meany’s struggle with the ILO in the 1970s, prove that dedicated populists working within the framework of American political pluralism, and committed to the ILO’s tripartite structure, can force governments and corporations to take workers’ rights into account. The message would seem to be that coalitions of labor bureaucrats, reform-minded capitalists, and political liberals could make workers’ rights a reality today. Yet, he himself recognizes that the ILO, while establishing standards as lofty ideals, has never been able to meaningfully enforce them.
What might make for meaningful change for workers on a world scale? In passing Lorenz alludes to the theory that the ILO owes its very existence to the strength of European socialism and the Russian Revolution. Such a theory, which would focus our attention on class struggle, offers another more fruitful way of understanding and fighting for workers’ rights. Toward the end of Defining Global Justice, Lorenz mentions the Battle of Seattle in 1999 where radical youth, environmentalists, and labor unions forced the shutdown of the World Trade Organization meeting. That kind of struggle–magnified a thousand fold–would lead to some meaningful changes in workers rights. The future lies not in political pluralism and tripartite arrangements, but in class struggle.
Kevin J. Middlebrook, The Paradox of Revolution: Labor, the
State, and Authoritarianism in Mexico, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995, 463pp.
Kevin Middlebrook's new Paradox of Revolution is one of the most thorough studies in either English or Spanish of the relationship between the Mexican state and the labor unions. Paradox of Revolution provides a history and analysis of Mexican labor from the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) through the inauguration of Ernest Zedillo (1994). Middlebrook, director of research at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, of the University of California at San Diego, deals with the major Mexican government sponsored or "official" labor federations the Regional Confederation of Mexican Labor (CROM) and the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) as well as several the major industrial unions. At the center of Middlebrook's book stand detailed studies of the railroad and auto industries and unions, with particular emphasis on the attempt to create independent unions in those sectors.
Perhaps the most interesting and important chapter in Middlebrook's book is chapter six, "Labor Politics and Import-Substituting Industrialization: From Maintenance to Labor Insurgency," which is a fascinating study of the successes and failures of the independent and democratic currents which appeared in the Mexican labor movement from the late 1960s through the 1970s. At the center of this chapter is his analysis of the democratic movement among workers in the auto industry. Middlebrook asks, how did this movement arise and what was its impact?
Middlebrook argues that in the early 1970s the rapid growth of auomobile manufacturing plants overwhelmed the Confederation of Mexican Workers's (CTM) system of representation and control, the plant delegate (delegado de planta). When plants changed from assembly to manufacture, or when the size of the workforce grew suddenly, the CTM's plant delegate system broke down, and workers began to demand new and more democratic systems of representation. The democratic movement among autoworkers became generalized throughout the auto industry in the early 1970s.
Middlebrook notes that "union democratization in the automobile industry did not necessarily improve workers economic welfare." (237) Whether or not there was improvement in wages and income depended on other factors, such as the nature of the company and plant. But often, because the new more democratic unions were "more inclined to strike" they did win higher wages.
Where rank and file groups took power, they "substantially increased opportunities for worker participation in union affairs." (237) And, "Democratically elected union officials generally proved more assertive than their predecessors in defense of members' interests, both in the resolution of individual and collective demands within the firm and in grievance proceedings before state agencies such as the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and labor conciliation and arbitration boards." (239)
Middlebrook describes how "Changes in workplace labor-management relations were among the most important consequences of union democratization in the automobile industry." (240) Rank and file reformers took more control over hiring, and attempted to eliminate the use of casual and temporary labor. The democratic union movement won contracts with better job security provisions. Workers took more control over the production process. And workers improved in-plant grievance procedures. Perhaps most important, where rank and file workers democratized their local unions, they called more strike and created more alliances with other workers and social movements. (240-54)
Yet, union democratization did not necessarily end corrupt and criminal practices in the unions such as theft of union funds or job selling. And newly elected democratic union leaders sometimes used the "exclusion clause"--a clause used to expel "disloyal" members form the union and requiring management to fire them from the workplace--against critics or opponents of the new leadership. (240) Anyone interested in the fight for union democracy and workers' power in the plant and in society will find Middlebrook's account of the democratic movements in the auto industry in the 1970s to be of great interest.
The rank and file movements of the 1970s were nearly all eventually defeated by the employers and the state, and those that remained nearly disappeared in the wake of the industrial reorganization and political changes of the 1980s and 1990s.
Middlebrook also analyzes that industrial reorganization of the 1980s and 1990s under Mexican presidents Miguel de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas de Gortari, showing the ways in which the state-sponsored labor unions failed to find ways to defend the interests of the working class.
In looking to the future of Mexican labor, Middlebrook is rather pessimistic. He see a major trend of the decline of manufacturing in central Mexico, and the movement of industry to north-central and northern Mexico, areas dominated by anti-union employers--a trend which does not bode well for workers. At the same time, the CTM and other union federations have proven incapable in the 1990s of coming up with a coherent program to defend workers' interests. The official unions and even the independent unions have not been successful in building alliances with other social movements, or in creating a new political party to represent their interests. Middlebrook sees "the main problem is the concentration of political power in the state administrative apparatus." (326) Proposed labor law reform "is likely to be strongly shaped by the growing influence of business interests in Mexican politics." (327) A rather bleak picture.
But as Middlebrook argues in conclusion, "The prospects for preserving organized labor's role in the workplace and in national policy making and for promoting democratic regime change in Mexico would both be enhanced if the removal of major state controls on labor participation occurred in conjunction with the democratization of the labor movement." (328) The fight for union democracy is central.
Throughout this book Middlebrook relies not only of union records and contemporary newspaper accounts, and a wide range of secondary sources, but also makes use of government records, such as those of the labor boards. Middlebrook's new book will become required reading for specialists and a standard reference for experts in the field for years to come. Because of its academic style, however, the book is not likely to readily accessible to the lay reader or the union activist.
While a major contribution to our knowledge of the Mexican labor movement, Paradox of Revolution has a number of problems, and fails to deliver on several of its promises. First, Middlebrook has organized his book around a theory he calls "post-revolutionary authoritarian rule." He writes on the opening page of his book: "The paradox of social revolution is that popular mobilization and socioeconomic transformation most commonly eventuate in a new form of authoritarian rule." (1) Middlebrook's theory of "post-revolutionary authoritarian rule" is not as convincing to me as several other theories of Mexican authoritarianism and adds little to his often interesting account of the labor movement. The theory is a superfluous scaffolding that would have been better dropped. Perhaps more important politically, Middlebrook's theory strikes me as a rehash of the "iron law of oligarchy" found in Robert Michels Political Parties written at the opening of this century. All movements for social change culminate in new dictatorships--so why fight for social change? There is a conservative thrust to such an outlook.
To show the usefulness of his "post-revolutionary authoritarian rule" theory, Middlebrook promises that Paradox of Revolution will be a comparative study, comparing Mexico's state-labor experience to other countries, most important Nicaragua and the Soviet Union. But there is not really much comparison. Middlebrook, who devotes such detailed attention and conscientious study to Mexican unions, gives a rather swift and shallow overview of developments in Nicaragua and the Soviet Union, which is completely unsatisfying. The comparative parts of this book would have been better omitted.
Second, Middlebrook says he is trying in this book to overcome the problems of "state-centered and society-centered" analyses of Mexican labor. By this he means explanations which focus on state control of the unions, and other explanations which focus on union or worker opposition. This is an important debate about the degree to which governments and employers control people, and the degree to which people are capable of resistance, that is the degree to which they are really autonomous. Middlebrook argues, quite correctly, for a dynamic and dialectical resolution to the problem, that is that the state tries to control and the unions and workers do resist, and the interaction between the two makes history.
But if you are going to show that people resist state and employer control, then you have to show us some people, and unfortunately Middlebrook has written an institutional history in which real human beings seldom appear. In the entire book there is not one portrait of one union activist or leader, hardly one word from a worker about her experience, not one description of an important strike. Middlebrook might have profited from the use of historical documents and oral history to give life to his account.
Finally, and this is the most important point, Middlebrook revises the existing theory of Mexican labor unions, rejecting the theory that Mexicans unions are "corporatist," that is incorporated into the one party-state. In a long note (note 82 found on page 341), Middlebrook explains that he rejects the use of the word "corporatist" because he feels it has lost its explanatory power and because the corporate explanation tends to emphasize the role of the state. While Middlebrook has relegated this to a footnote, this is no small matter, but rather represents an important break with many other students of the Mexican labor movement.
In the 1960s and 70s, a group of young Mexican scholars developed a "corporatist" analysis of the relations between the Mexican state and the unions. (Among the best known: Arnoldo Cordova and Juan Felipe Leal.) They chose the word "corporatist" which comes from the lexicon of Mussolini's fascism, to emphasize the state's control over workers' unions and peasants' organizations. In the Mexican corporatist system, the state-party (the PRI) not only took control of the unions through legal procedures, but the PRI also forced the unions to become part of the ruling party, and involved itself intimately in the life of the unions. The very use of the word corporatist in Mexico implied two things: first, that Mexico's state control of unions was authoritarian or totalitarian, and second, that therefore the corporatist system should be overthrow. Democracy could not be achieved without the destruction of the corporatist party-state-union system. The very use of the word corporatist with its fascist connotations suggested a revolutionary attitude toward the Mexican one-party state dictatorship.
The problem is that while Middlebrook rejects the corporatist argument, Middlebrook has no theoretical substitute for it, but instead emphasizes what he calls "the labor movement's dependence on a broad range of state-provided legal, financial, and political subsidies." (p. 30). That is, the state provided a legal structure which recognized the official unions, the state gave them economic aid and provided jobs in the establishment. While all of that is true, as a theory it is less complex, less compelling, and less subtle than the best of the corporate theorists of labor. Corporate explanations of the unions, at least the most sophisticated ones, showed the ways in which the state controlled unions through the use of force, through cooptation, through political and union structures, through common ideology, through economic programs, and through the development of overlapping personnel and activities. (Alberto Aziz Nassif, El Estado Mexicano y la CTM (Mexico: Ediciones de la Casa Chata, 1989, #32).
Kevin Middlebrook seeks to redress the balance state-centered analyses, and wants to show that unions and workers had a certain latitude for action within the authoritarian system. While that desire to show the complexity of the system and the relative autonomy of unions and workers may be a needed corrective, ultimately I think one has to conclude the system remains fundamentally "corporatist." While workers in Mexico have struggled heroically--teachers, auto and rubber workers, steel workers, brewery workers and many others--the state and its official unions have kept the upper hand. If anything the official unions have become more rigid, more authoritarian, more reactionary, and less genuinely unions. (There are of course exceptional cases of opposition currents and democratic movements.) Though we may wish for another conclusion, in all really important matters--union recognition, strikes, wage policy, broader economic policy, and political action--in the last analysis, the state-party still controls the official unions.
The Congress of Labor (CT) and the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) controlled by the PRI remain fundamentally phony-unions, more transmission belts for government policy than expressions of workers' needs and desires. A genuine democratic rank and file movement from below would not only overthrow the existing union bureaucracy, but in effect destroy those government structures and create genuine labor unions and federations in their place. Such democratic and independent unions would reach out to other social movements and would tend to create a political force and probably a political party. If workers and peasants succeeded in creating genuinely democratic and independent unions and broad alliances, they would threaten the very existence of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The corporate analysis implies that the state's corporate control of the labor unions deserves to be overthrown by a democratic movement from below, and that posture, attitude and analysis remain fundamentally correct.
In any case, Middlebrook's Paradox of Revolution is an impressive work of scholarship and analysis and will likely be a standard work in the field for years to come.
Devon G. Pena, The Terror of the Machine: Technology, Work, Gender and
Ecology on the U.S. Mexico Border (Austin: University of Texas, 1997). Notes. Bibliography. Map. Tables. 460 pages. Hardback $45, Paper $19.95.
Devon G. Pena's The Terror of the Machine: Technology, Work, Gender and Ecology on the U.S. Mexico Border could be called the anarchosyndicalist, eco-feminist study of the maquiladora workers and their communities. Sometimes fascinating and often irritating, this book ultimately disappoints the reader because it touches on a dozen important issues and never satisfies our curiosity about any of them. In particular while advocating democracy, autonomy and workers' control, it doesn't address key questions concerning democracy in the movements and organizations it studies. Yet in the course of this long, meandering read, one learns a good deal about the maquiladoras and the way they work.
Pena informs us that this book about the mostly female maquiladora workers of Ciudad Juarez represents thirteen years of both field and library research. Most of Pena's field research appears to have been conducted during the early 1980s, though he apparently returned to do some more interviews around 1990. In the course of reading we learn that this research resulted in a funding raising proposal, a dissertation, and finally this book published in 1997. Throughout the book one senses big gaps between 1982, 1990 and 1997 which Pena does not fill or bridge, and which contribute to the reader's sense that there may be crucial omissions in the events.
The author tells us his thesis quite clearly in his opening pages: "Maquila workers, despite the terror of the machine, are capable of thinking for themselves, of inventing alternatives to capitalist production/destruction, of creating cooperative forms of organization that link workplace democracy with ecological sustainability....The maquila workers of Mexico's northern border are also challenging the assumptions of the dominant Western paradigm of progress and industrial development by taking a stand for an alternative to mass production and assembly-line work." (12) Pena suggests at various points that he sees the maquiladora workers' organizations as models of democracy and autonomy.
Then Pena goes on to tell three major stories intended to demonstrate and substantiate this thesis. None of these stories has been told clearly or completely so that it is left to the reader to figure them out. Let me give you the rundown.
One story deals with the shop floor struggles of the mainly women maquiladora workers and the ways in which they construct informal shop floor organizations and engage in work-to-rule campaigns and slowdowns, what Mexicans call tortuguismo or going as slow as a tortuga, a turtle. To tell this story Pena presents a detailed account of maquiladora work organization, and a fascinating picture of worker resistance. Pena tells us that the workers' shop floor organizations developed into work stoppages and wildcat strikes, reaching a high point in the early 1980s with the creation of a network of workers' councils and the organization of an independent union which led a wildcat strike at the Acapulco Fashions company. Unfortunately, Pena never discusses the workers' councils, the independent union, or the strikes, so we have no way of assessing and evaluating many of his assertions. One wonders why Pena who spent so much time on analyzing shop floor organization spends virtually no time analyzing strikes and union organizations.
In the course of his discussion of the workers' organization in the maquiladora industry, what he calls the "subaltern struggle," Pena puts forward two quite contradictory views, one inspired by a kind of eco-feminist anarchosyndicalist vision, and others more characteristic of typical trade unionism or perhaps socialism in its Mexican nationalist variant. For example, compare these two statements. First, Pena writes, "Maquila workers have consistently demonstrated good sense by circumventing formal mediation and opting instead for the underground struggle, which is organized as direct attacks on technological, bureaucratic, and social forms of control. In the real of subaltern struggle, workers can dispense with the ever elusive strike permit." (107) By this logic, workers around the world would have wisely avoided organizing labor unions or labor parties, since such formal workers' organizations nearly always require some sort of permit. But, at only a few pages later, Pena writes, "With work stoppages, the terrain of struggle can expand to include the workers' communities, unions, political parties, and the state." (127).
The latter statement seems more like the reality with which I am familiar, but unfortunately Pena never addresses the important and interesting questions this process raises. Should workers organize or join unions? If so should they form independent unions or join the unions of the one-party-state? What should be the relation of unions to political parties? Should workers and unions join political parties, and if so which one? The government party or an opposition party? And which opposition, left or right? Most important for someone with Pena's apparent sympathies, how can workers establish democratic controls over their own organizations and their leaders? We know that these were very real questions for the leaders and activists of strikes in the maquiladoras in the 1980s, but Pena avoids these issues at his peril, as we learn in the second story.
The second tale concerns Guillermina Valdes and COMO. In one sense the book could be called an institutional history of COMO, the Center for the Orientation of Women Workers (COMO) of Ciudad Juarez. However, we only piece together the history and structure of COMO very incompletely and inadequately in the course of Pena's narrative. In the early 1960s Guillermina Valdes de Villalva, the charismatic leader of COMO for over twenty years, went to the University of Michigan where she studied the theories of Paolo Freire and Erich Fromm. She then returned to Mexico and in 1968 she and a group of left-wing social workers founded COMO as a women's social service center which helped women maquiladora workers. Those workers engaged in many strikes and work stoppages, and if we are to believe Pena, COMO was at the center of many of these movements.
But while it was under the leadership of Valdes for twenty years, COMO also did many other things. COMO sought and got funding from the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) established by the U.S. Congress in the 1960s, which gave COMO almost half a million dollars in 1978-1980. COMO also got funding from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of the German Social Democratic Party which funds many labor organizations in Mexico. When Valdes experienced a religious conversion, COMO did too, and developed a close relationship to the Roman Catholic charismatic St. John the Baptist Community. Later COMO established ties with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and got funding from the Mexican government. One has the impression that those ties to the PRI and the government were what made it difficult for COMO to take a position opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as some independent Mexican unions did. Finally, after Valdes left to take an academic job at the College of the Northern Border (COLEF) and then died in a plane crash in 1991, the center's leadership was taken over by her daughter Luchi Villalva. (Much of the biography of Valdes and the story of COMO is buried in the footnotes.)
As this story unfolds, one wonders just who Valdes and her left wing social worker associates were. Were they the members of some Guevarist or Maoist group as anyone who knows Mexico would suppose? What was the organizational and political relationship between COMO and the workers' informal organizations and the more formal groups such as the independent union? How did workers feel about the ties to U.S. government philanthropy, German social democracy, Roman Catholicism and to the PRI? Pena suggests that the ties to the PRI were not significant, but his answer did not satisfy this reader. Did the workers have democratic organizations to control Valdes or later her daughter Luchi Villalva? Could the workers be autonomous as long as they were dependent on COMO and Valdes? Pena not only does not seriously address most of these questions, but throughout the telling of the story acts as an apologist for Guillermina Valdes who was his friend and mentor.
Pena's third story has to do with SOCOSEMA, the Cooperative Society of Selectors of Materials. In 1975 a group of pepenadores or scavengers who had been living and working in the Juarez garbage dump formed the SOCOSEMA cooperative. COMO supported the SOCOSEMA cooperative, which Pena argues became a model of working class democracy. "SOCOSEMA's organizational structure is actually reminiscent of that of the worker factory councils of Antonio Gramsci's Italy," writes Pena. (228). Calling upon mutualist traditions and their experiences in the comadre networks, the 28 women involved became the real leaders of the total of 203 members of the cooperative. Pena claims that the scavengers' cooperative represented the original recyclers, and developed an "ethnoscience" of recycling aimed at sustainable, environmentally benevolent development. He writes "...their experience with recycling comes precisely from their location outside the consumer markets and the logic of capitalism." (234)
I don't doubt that the scavengers established a democratic cooperative, and that women played a leading role in it. But as he does throughout this book, Pena exaggerates with his comparisons to the Italian workers' council movement of the 1920s which involved hundreds of thousands of workers whose near revolution precipitated Mussolini's fascist backlash. Also the suggestion that garbage pickers are somehow outside the consumer market or the logic of capitalism simply ignores the reality that the scavengers are the bottom feeders of the consumer market, the end of the capitalist food chain. Pena seems to have forgotten that he told us that they had originally established the cooperative as a condition of bidding on the scavenging concession. The cooperative began as a workers' business in competition with capitalist scavengers. Pena also forgot that he mentioned that somehow the tiny coop of the poorest workers purchased a $2.5 million recycling plant and a fleet of twenty large trucks. But he never explains where they got the money. I suspect that if the money didn't come from a bank it came from the PRI-government, but in any case it came from that world of consumerism and capitalism.
One key idea of the book is what Pena, following Valdes, calls "transference methodology," the idea that maquiladora workers could transfer their skills and working knowledge to other branches of production and to the community. Pena contends that the maquiladora workers developed not only manual skills, but also technical skills which increased production in the factory, and social skills learned in the struggle against management; both the technical and social skill could be transferred to other productive and social areas. Pena suggests that after the decline of the workers strikes of the early 1980s, for example, some of the workers' skills were put to use in the development of the scavengers' cooperative. This is an interesting idea, but Pena did not convince me that it actually happened on any important scale.
Pena's original study of the maquiladora workers in Juarez in the early 1980s makes up most of the book. The author has appended a chapter on Mexico under de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He discusses all the contemporary organizations engaged in the struggle against NAFTA, neo-liberalism, and the transnational corporations (COMO does not figure among them) providing a useful if somewhat superficial overview. The final chapters of the book also discuss environmental matters and models of sustainable development.
What really bothers me about this book is that Pena doesn't want to ask the hard questions about the relationship between the workers' movement in the plants, the cooperatives, the COMO organization, and Guillermina Valdes. As an advocate of a kind of workers' control model myself, I feel that Pena has an obligation to ask how workers can control or might control their own organizations. His failure to do so makes this book ultimately frustrating and disappointing.
III. Bibliography of Rural Workers and Indigenous People
Hector Diaz-Polanco. La Rebelion Zapatista y la Autonomia. Mexico: Siglo-
Veintiuno Editores, 1997.
Hector Diaz-Polanco, a researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS) in Mexico City and an advisor to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), has been one of the foremost interpreters of autonomy movements in Latin America and one of the strongest advocates of regional, territorial and political autonomy for the Indian peoples of Mexico. A Dominican by birth, Diaz-Polanco spent time in Nicaragua as an advisor to the regional indigenous movements there.
In this book Diaz-Polanco argues that the EZLN-led Chiapas rebellion of 1994 put the issue of autonomy at the top of the political agenda in Mexico. As Diaz-Polanco sees it, one of the greatest contributions of the EZLN was to link the Chiapas Indians' demand for autonomy with the national struggles for democracy and social justice, and to link the guerrillas and the Indian movement to the broader struggles of Mexican civil society.
This comprehensive book discusses the history of the indigenous peoples' autonomy struggles in Mexico since the conquest, the contemporary social and economic situation of the Indians of Mexico, and the political struggle between the Indians and the Mexican state. Diaz-Polanco examines the autonomy agreements between Greenland and Denmark and between Nicaragua and its costal regions as models for future autonomy agreements in Latin America and other parts of the world.
Finally, Diaz-Polanco follows the current negotiations between the Mexican government and the Zapatistas from the uprising of January 1, 1994 to the San Andres Larrainzar agreements. I found this book particularly helpful in correcting some of my own political misunderstandings about the autonomy issue. Diaz-Polanco's new book and Yvon LeBot's recent book "Subcomandante Marcos: El sueno zapatista," provide us with important insights into the Mayan Indian rebellion.
Yvon Le Bot. Subcomandante Marcos: El sueno zapatista. Mexico: Plaza y Janez,
1997. 376 pages.
Yvon Le Bot's new book (issued simultaneously in Spanish and French) represents one of the most important contributions to the discussion of the Chiapas Rebellion and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Le Bot's book, sympathetic to the Mayan Indians and the Zapatista rebels, offers one of the most intelligent and critical examinations of the Zapatista movement and its politics. This book represents a turning point in the literature dealing with the Zapatista movement, opening a window and letting fresh air circulate in academic and political circles.
The first half of the book is a long introductory essay by Le Bot, while the second is comprised of interviews with Zapatista leaders Marcos, Moises and Tacho. What makes this book so important are the questions Le Bot asks or implies, both in his introduction and in his interviews. How did the EZLN's politics evolve? What was the relation between the original Guevarist project and the Indian movement? How democratic was the traditional Mayan village? How democratic is the Zapatista Mayan village? What is the relationship between the Zapatista project in the Maya lands, and a possible democratic project in Mexico as a whole? Le Bot--and Marcos--suggest that the answers to these questions are more problematic than many of their supporters understand. This book cannot be recommended too highly to those interested in the Zapatista movement or engaged in solidarity organizations.
IV. Bibliography of Mexican Politics
Vicente Fox, A Los Pinos: Recuento Autobiografico y Politico. Mexico: Oceano,
1999. 224 pages, index.
In the autobiography written for his campaign for president, Vicente Fox explains his rise to the national political scene. Fox was born on July 2, 1942, the second son of a Mexican business family. As a boy he attended the Instituto Lux, a Roman Catholic school where the Jesuits taught his classes. In about 1960 Fox entered the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City, a private Catholic school, and then a very elite college where Mexico's finest families sent their children.
After graduating from college, Fox went to work for the Coca Cola Company as a route salesman, while studying English on the side. He rose from a salesman, to route manager, to a district superintendent, working in cities and states all over Mexico. The company eventually made him vice-president and then president of its Mexican operations. During that period he traveled for the company throughout Latin America and frequently to the United States, his English by then nearly perfect.
Fox writes in his autobiography that he took pride in working for Coca Cola which he saw as a socially responsible corporation, particularly in terms of purchasing Mexican products, respecting the environment, and promoting economic development. While a Coke executive Fox also worked with a number of foundations and non-governmental organizations which did social work for alcoholics, drug addicts and battered women. During that period Fox also took a degree in management from the Harvard University Business School.
In addition to his work for Coke, Fox always had a role in the family businesses, a ranch that produced grains and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, garbanzos and potatoes. The family also owned a shoe company, "Botas Fox," with a factory in Nuevo Leon that produced mens' and womens' shoes both for the national and the international market. During the Echeverria years (1976-82) the Fox family sometimes felt besieged by peasants who invaded and seized land. Fox's father personally confronted and faced down the peasant interlopers. Under Vicente Fox's management of the company after he left Coke, the company employed as many as 3,000 workers.
His experience as an executive for a U.S.-based multinational corporation and as a Mexican businessman both shaped Fox as an economic conservative. Fox's own political philosophy, he writes, rejects both the old Mexican state-controlled economy and neoliberalism, and seeks to find a harmonious relationship between government and the market. Not surprisingly, given his work as a Coke executive, a shoe manufacturer for export, and his Harvard business degree, Fox's views on political and economic matters seem very close to those of American conservatives. It was Manuel J. Clouthier, the neopanista presidential candidate who recruited Fox into professional politics.
Fox and Clouthier first met in employers' organizations such as the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and COPARMEX, the Mexican Employers Association. After the nationalization of the bank in 1982, Fox joined the businessmen flowing into the PAN, and Clouthier was his political godfather. In 1988, Fox ran for Congress as the representative for Leon, and participated in the struggle over the 1988 election, identifying with Clouthier's resistance more than with the PAN's acquiescence. In 1991 Fox ran for governor, but the election results were contested and president Salinas appointed an interim governor. When Fox ran again in 1995 he won, and his outspoken populist style soon made him a national figure. Fox used his five years as governor to promote himself for the presidency.
Fox won the 2000 elections based largely on the Mexican people's opposition to the PRI and their desire for change. The PRI-state had made it clear in the 1988 election and the repression that followed, that the PRD would never be allowed to come to power. With that option close, the people voted for the PAN, and Fox won.
Clearly Fox, while he has a distinctive personality, is hardly a maverick. In fact, with his Roman Catholic education, his business background, and his conservative political-economic views, he well represents the traditions of the National Action Party, and particularly of panistas, the activist business wing. Within the PAN, he also represents the more pro-U.S. and pro-multinational wing. Though he denies that he is a neoliberal, his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and for expanding NAFTA to the rest of Latin America locate him in the neoliberal globalization camp. For the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Treasury Department, Fox's election represents the last step in a long process that began back in 1980 when the U.S. government began to shape a new Mexican political economy.
Soledad Loaeza. El Partido Accion Nacional: La Larga Marcha, 1939-1994:
Oposicion Leal y Partido de Protesta. Mexico: El Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1999. 607 pages, bibliography, index, tables.
The victory of Vicente Fox in the Mexican presidential elections of 1999 leads necessarily to greater interest in the National Action Party (PAN) that he now heads. The PAN is in power--but what is the PAN?
Fox was, supposedly, no typical Panista. He often challenged the leadership of his own party, built his own campaign organization, and at times adopted views and positions alien to the PAN leadership. With the aid of former leftists like Jorge Castaneda and political chameleons like Adolfo Aguilar Zinzer he even adopted a kind of social liberal veneer to cover his fundamentally conservative views. But Fox ran on the PAN ticket, with the support of the national party, and will now have to pass his legislative program with the votes of PAN legislators.
In any case, while something of a maverick, Fox is in fact at the same time an excellent representative, indeed almost an archetype of his party's traditional leadership. For while the PAN has made itself over several times since its founding and has remained fundamentally a party of bankers, businessmen, and Roman Catholic clergy with a middle class and lower middle class following. Fox, for all his swagger and bravado, is nothing more than a Rotarian down-at-the-rodeo, the Chamber of Commerce in chaps, not a man-on-a-horse in the usual political sense of that term--that is, not a Bonaparte--but commercial centaur--a salesman-on-a-horse.
Soledad Loaeza is the author of the most recent and most comprehensive book on the PAN: "The National Action Party: the Long March, 1939-1994, Loyal Opposition and Party of Protest." Loaeza wrote her book between 1993 and 1998 at Columbia College in New York and at the Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City, attempting to understand and explain how the PAN developed from a protest party into a serious contender for power. Rejecting structural studies that focus on social class and modernization theory, she argues that the most important factor in the development of a political party is the "conjuncture," the historical and social situation, the Zeitgeist or spirit of the times. But despite her own theoretical predilections, her book makes an excellent case for the role of social class in political analysis, and makes it clear that the PAN tended over many decades to base itself on businessmen, and after 1982 became the party of the business elite and the corporations.
Vicente Fox himself, in his book "To Los Pinos [the Mexican White House]: An Autobiographical and Political Account," tells who he, as a Coke executive, rancher, and shoe manufacturer joined other businessmen in the rush to PAN in the 1980s. Both of Loaeza's comprehensive academic study and Fox's personal autobiographical account enrich out understanding of this party and the president-elect, and are recommended reading for those who want to understand what's happening in Mexico today. The following article summarizes their accounts for those who do not read Spanish.
The Origin of the PAN: Bankers and Catholic Activists
Banker Manuel Gomez-Morin and Roman Catholic ideologue Efrain Gonzalez Luna founded the National Action Party (PAN) in 1939. The PAN was formed in the government of Lazaro Cardenas that had nationalized the petroleum industry in 1938 and then reorganized the ruling party as the Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRM) based on the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), the National Confederation of Peasants (CNC), and on the Army. To many in Mexico it appeared that the country was headed toward socialism if not to communism. The PAN was created to give voice to elites who felt excluded by Cardenas's project.
While sometimes thought of a party of the counterrevolution, in fact the PAN represented an alternative to the state-party (what later become the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI), an alternative that arose out of the revolutionary family. In fact, Gomez-Morin had been a high official of the Mexican state, and one of the country's distinguished intellectuals, before he became disgusted with the revolution's failure to create a program of national reconstruction and modernization. During the 1930s, a period of the struggles around the world between communism and capitalism, Gomez-Morin sought out "a third way." While Lazaro Cardenas sought to lay the foundations from above for an agrarian-based socialism in Mexico, Gomez-Morin sought to bring about capitalist industrialization and social reform.
Gomez-Morin was inspired by the Roman Catholic social teachings of Pope Leo XIII, particularly Rerum Novarum, the Papal Encyclical of 1891 that reconciled the church to modern society and to institutions such as labor unions, albeit Catholic unions. The other founder of the PAN, Gonzalez-Luna also drew on the church for his inspiration, seeing in Catholic theology and morality a bulwark against liberalism, positivism, materialism and socialism. Inspired by Hispanic culture and the Catholic faith, the ideal society formed an organic whole in which each element played its part. A traditionalist, Gonzalez-Luna rejected representative democracy in favor of a society based on the family and the community or municipality, the natural bases of human society. A firm believer in the principles of "Rerum Novarum," his first PAN chapters formed in the states of Chihuahua and Monterrey (Nuevo Leon), the latter the home of Mexico's most conservative businessmen. The PAN's other growing base of power would be found in the Federal District, the party's strongest center until the 1990s.
Another source of the early PAN ideology was the developmental dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera in Spain (1923-1930). Gomez-Morin saw in Spain the abolition of liberalism by a Christian state intervening to control bankers and businessmen while maintaining capitalist property altering the distribution of wealth; that is, an authoritarian system of social justice.
Gomez-Morin had served as Rector of the University of Mexico where, with the help of the National Union of Catholic Students (UNEC), he had resisted president Lazaro Cardenas's program of "socialist education." The UNEC, linked to the Jesuits and to Catholic Action, became the principal source of the PAN's first cadres. The PAN developed a reputation as the party of the educated elite, students, professors and professionals--in an era which very few university graduates existed in the entire country. The PAN in its first incarnation had an elitist character; it sought a government of "excellent minorities." The party projected the image of an organization of intellectuals defending culture against barbarism and totalitarianism. In those early years of the 1940s, the PAN competed with the more right-wing Sinarquist National Union (UNS), los Sinarquistas. (The UNS or Sinarquistas were also known electorally as the Popular Force Party - PFP.)
The UNS had its base in the Western states of the Cristero Rebellion, the Catholic uprising against the Mexican state between 1926 and 1934. In 1943 the UNS was estimated to have 600 committees with over half a million members in the western states of Mexico. More conservative and more militant than the PAN, the Sinarquistas were also more popular, having a base among poor farmers. PAN and UNS did not get along, the first seeing itself as a party of cadres and the latter as a party of the masses, the first as an electoral organization, the second as a popular movement outside of the political parties. While the UNS willingly subordinated itself to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the PAN never had a clear relationship to the church hierarchy.
The PAN Party Program: Reaction and Reform
In terms of program, the PAN had no fundamental differences with the state-party (later the PRI) over the nature of the economy; like the government-party, it stood for capitalism. The PAN called for the government to intervene to protect workers, supported the organization of labor unions (preferably Catholic unions) but rejected the right of unions to strike. The PAN also called upon the state to support workers' and peasants' cooperatives. While the Mexican state-party created a corporative society based on workers' and peasants' unions, the PAN wanted a corporative society based on the municipality and the family. But the PAN, in keeping with its Roman Catholicism, was also fiercely anti-Communist throughout its history.
The PAN rejected representative democracy in theory, while the state-party did so in practice. As a party with Catholic ideology and Catholic activists, the PAN rejected contraception and abortion. Finally, in terms of international politics, the PAN rejected the U.S. conception of Panamericanism, and proposed instead a grand Hispanic alliance of Spain and the Latin American countries. PAN foreign policy in the 1940s saw two great enemies: the United States, the home of Liberal Democracy, and the Soviet Union, the home of Communism. Franco's Spain and Peron's Argentina held out some hope for the Mexican right.
From 1939 to 1949 Gomez-Morin led the party and emphasized its program of modernization and its strategy of an electoral struggle. However, when he stepped down in 1949, Gonzalez-Luna changed the direction of the party, emphasizing Catholic morality and a strategy of abstention. A really reactionary elitist, Gonzalez-Luna did not believe in representative democracy, parliament or elections; he did not trust the masses.
Roman Catholic doctrine and militants would dominate the party from 1949 to 1979. In this period the PAN became a doctrinaire "ghetto-party," isolated from the rest of Mexican political life. World War II tended to isolate the PAN even more. The war led to an alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union, the PAN's two great enemies, which Mexico joined. The PAN called for neutrality, but under pressure from Mexican President Avila Camacho, signed a statement supporting the struggle against the Axis Powers, Germany, Italy and Japan. Thus through World War II, the U.S. inspired program of Panamericanism became dominant, and within that context, Mexico began to industrialize.
The state-party also began to reach out to university graduates and other excluded sectors of middle class society. The state-party created the National Confederation of Popular Organizations (CNOP), made up of all of those excluded from the labor and peasants' unions. The CNOP included small landowners, merchants and manufacturers, members of cooperatives, professionals and intellectuals. In other words it went after the base of the PAN. The state party, re-baptized the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), had taken up the PAN's program of modernization, its orientation toward the universities. At the same time, the war had made the PAN's sympathy for right-wing authoritarian governments anathema. While the PRI adopted the popular Keynesian economics, the PAN stood outside the mainstream with its calls for monetarism and balanced budgets. The PAN found itself even more isolated, a "ghetto-party," but also the loyal opposition. In the elections of the early 1940s the PAN did poorly, running its university-educated candidates in dozens of parliamentary districts, and losing in all of them. While the PAN shouted "fraud," and with reason, its loses also had to do with its elite and sectarian character.
The PAN's Changing Social Base
During the late 1940s, when the Sinarquistas began to quarrel among themselves and the UNS went into decline, the PAN began to pick up some of its former rival's political base. The PAN began to grow in Jalisco and Guanajuato, the heart of UNS territory. During these years many university graduates, professionals and big businessmen moved away from the PAN and into the PRI, while many small merchants and businessmen, artisans and peasants formed the UNS and moved into the PAN. Consequently the PAN, without giving up its conservative Roman Catholic ideology, underwent a social transformation from a party of the urban elite to a party of the lower middle classes and the rural poor. By picking up the Sinarquista base, the PAN also increased the percentage of women in its following, which became a factor after women won the vote in 1953. (The Mexican left had generally opposed women's suffrage fearing women would be controlled by the Catholic church.) PAN also found female support in Catholic Action, where more than two-thirds of whose 350,000 members were women.
Even though the PAN had a conservative and pro-business posture, during the period from the late 1940s to the late 1960s the great industrialists, merchants and bankers did not form part of the PAN's social base because the PRI served their interests well. The one exception was a conservative business group in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon which sometimes backed the PAN, and at other times withdrew its support. The PAN had middle class or petty bourgeois leadership, and a base among small businesses, and the middle and lower middle class, with support from some workers and peasants.
During this same period, the PRI expelled its leftist and Communist elements who, led by Vicente Lombardo Toledano, formed the Popular Party (PP) which later became the Popular Socialist Party (PPS). Thus, in the 1950s and 60s, Mexico could present itself as a three-party, parliamentary democracy with a leftist party, the PPS, a right-wing party, the PAN, and the PRI as the solid and moderate center. This formula served the PRI well in various forms over several decades. Throughout the period from 1949 to 1964 the PAN never received less than 1 percent and never more than 11 percent of the vote.
Vatican II, Solidarismo, and "The Open Door"
During the late 1950s, the PAN suffered a series of political electoral defeats which caused a crisis in the party, and in November of 1962, Adolfo Christlieb Ibarrola became head of the PAN and turned the party in a new direction in an attempt to break out of the political ghetto in which it found itself. Christlieb's attempt was helped by developments in the Roman Catholic Church, for that was also the year of Vatican Council II, which produced the papal encyclical "Gaudium et Spes," an attempt to reconcile the church to liberal democracy. This important document argued that Catholics should not only be the defenders of the status quo, but also had a responsibility to change social structures to for the benefits of the people. (The Theology of Liberation would at least in part emerge from this impulse.) Christlieb was inspired by this new theology to transform the PAN.
Rather than rejecting Mexican politics, he argued, the PAN had to accept political pluralism, enter into dialogue with the government, and take political participation seriously. At the same time, the Mexican government passed a new electoral reform in 1962 that also made this possible. The Cuban Revolution and its radicalization also gave a new urgency to conservative politics. As a result of all of these factors, in the 1962 elections the PAN won hundreds of thousands of new voters, 18 seats in the parliament, including one for Chistlieb, and established itself as a more important factor in the country's political life. The PAN continued to participate and to maintain its influence throughout the 1960s until the crisis of 1970.
During the late 1960s Efrain Gonzalez Morfin, son of the party's founder, attempted under the influence of Vatican II, to turn the party back in the direction of a moral opposition to the Mexican state, economy and society. Like his father, he inclined toward Catholic moralism and abstentionism. Under the growing influence of the reformist currents in Catholicism, he proposed a new doctrine for the party that he called "solidarismo" or solidarity. The political platform that he wrote for the party in 1970, partly under the influence of the Jesuits, called for expanding access to property and to the means of production for workers, peasants, employees, and for changing the consciousness and conscience of private business so that they would invest for the good of workers and the people. His position, however, was also associated with the more moral and abstentionist wing of the party.
Mexico changed dramatically in the years between 1960 and the late 1970s as its population grew, the society became more urban and industrial, and more students entered colleges and universities to emerge as professionals. In addition, a series of international developments also had an impact on the PAN during the period of the 1960s: the period from the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the student movement of 1968, the labor and peasant militancy of the 1970s, the fall of President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1974 all of which changed Mexican political culture. In particular, the presidency of Luis Echeverria (1968-1974) appeared to the PAN and other conservatives as a threat to Mexican society. Echeverria's populism, his support for peasant land seizures, workers' strikes, and new socialist parties, while really attempts to strengthen the base of the PRI, appeared to some as a movement toward socialism.
During Echeverria's presidency a new leadership came to the forefront in the PAN led by Jose Angel Conchello. Turning away from the moral reformism of Gonzalez Morfin, he advocated a "party of the open door," that is a party open to those who were not necessarily doctrinaire Catholics, and in particular open to the growing movement of businessmen, who, frightened by Echeverria's populism, were looking for an alternative. The PAN's anti-communism, always part of its political philosophy, appealed to businessmen opposed to Echeverria. Within the party a contest developed between Gonzalez Morfin's moralism and abstentionism, and Conchello's "open door" and orientation to business. The crisis paralyzed the party in 1976, which for the only time in its history offered no presidential candidate.
The PAN emerged from the crisis of 1976 having definitively rejected the moralistic and absentionist position, and having welcomed the influx of new middle class and capitalist groups. These developments took place within the context of yet another new electoral law that encouraged participation of both the right and the left. In the new electoral spectrum, the PRI still stood at the center with the majority of the votes, but the Communist Party (PC) stood on the left, while the National Action Party (PAN) stood on the right. During the 1979 elections the PAN grew in strength to become the second party of Mexico with 43 legislators out of 40 (while the PC had 25). The party's strength appeared in Baja California, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Sonora. Echeverria had driven the businessmen into the PAN, and they were leading the party forward.
For author Soledad Loaeza, the key event in the history of the PAN was the PRI's 1982 expropriation and nationalization of the banks, an act that appeared as a move toward socialism which drove the key sectors of Mexican business to the right and into the PAN. The PRI's take over of the banks combined with the economic crisis and peso devaluation of the same year, created a new political current in the PAN called "neopanismo," or new-PANism, and it reflected the politicization of the business class. Capitalists with medium and small businesses especially moved into the party, but some large corporate capital began to back the party as well. Important among these were the agribusiness leaders of Sinaloa and Sonora. Many were young businessmen, local leaders in their chambers of commerce and communities. The neopanistas took electoral politics seriously and wanted to see electoral victories, but they also brought a new militancy to the party.
Direct Action and Civil Disobedience
These aggressive young businessmen brought a new political strategy and new tactics to the party, and in particular they brought the idea of engaging in "direct action" and "civil resistance." The old PAN had eschewed public political displays as undignified, and the new PAN took to the streets with car caravans, public demonstrations, and soon with generally nonviolent civil disobedience. These militant PAN activists quickly became frustrated with the PRI-government that they felt fraudulently denied them the electoral victories that they had won and to which they were entitled.
The experience in Chihuahua in 1986 proved a turning point. The PAN leaders and activists believed they had won the governorship, the electoral authorities gave the victory to the PRI, and the result was a public, political struggle. The PAN leaders Francisco Barrio Terrazas and Gustavo Villarreal, joined by longtime leader Luis H. Alvarez participated in a 22-day hunger strike. The PAN activists blocked the international bridges to the United States, and began a tax strike. The Roman Catholic archdiocese put out a letter calling upon the public to preserve political pluralism--that is to support the PAN.
The PAN's new militancy suddenly brought the party, its politics and its people to national attention, and to international attention. The PAN became front-page news in the United States where the arch conservative Jesse Helms suddenly spoke out against electoral fraud in Mexico. The national and international attention encouraged the party activists who now seized banks, bridges and the tollbooths on the international bridges and highways, as well as taking over railroads and public buildings. The PAN took its complaints to the Organization of American State and the Inter-American Human Rights Court in Washington. The U.S. National Security Council held meetings with PAN leaders to see if they would support the U.S. Central American policies. While the PAN lost the battle over the Chihuahua governorship, the strategy and tactics had changed the party.
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and the PRD
During the 1980s, the PRI had been undergoing an internal crisis of its own as the technocrats, led by Miguel de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas, moved to oust the nationalists from power in the party. As the technocrats reoriented the party toward what would be called the neoliberal globalization program, the nationalists led by Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and Porfirio Munoz Ledo of the Democratic Current of the PRI resisted. Finally in 1987 the Democratic Current left the PRI and Cardenas launched his campaign for the presidency in 1988, first as the candidate of the Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution (PARM) and then of the National Democratic Front (FND). Cardenas, son of president Lazaro Cardenas, represented the historic enemy of the PAN, and his emergence as the leader of a new opposition to the PRI both frustrated and infuriated the PAN leadership and membership. The PAN saw itself as marching toward victory in 1988 to find its path blocked by the very forces that had led to its formation in 1939.The PAN chose Manuel Clouthier, a businessman and independent and outspoken neopanista to represent the party in 1988. Clouthier and his supporters hoped to create a national mass movement that could overturn the PRI, and looked for inspiration to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Corazon Aquino as their inspirations. The Philippine's experience appeared as particularly important, for a mass movement of the people in that country had just succeeded in ousting Ferdinando Marcos, and Clouthier frequently shouted out at meetings, "The Philippines points the way!"
But in the summer of 1988, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas had captured the imagination of many Mexicans, from peasants in states where his father had distributed land to their fathers, to schoolteachers in Mexico City, to college students in many parts of the country. Cardenas emerged as the winner of the 1988 election--but president Miguel de la Madrid and head of the Ministry of the Interior Manuel Bartlett gave the victory to Carlos Salinas to Gortarti. To his credit, Manuel Clouthier joined Cardenas in opposing the PRI. But the PAN as a party, while declaring the election lacked legitimacy, did not back Clouthier in his opposition, and preferred instead to negotiate with the PRI.
The PRI, with the support of the PAN, was able both to secure the presidency of Salinas, and to move to reestablish the state-party system. For these reasons, for several years the PAN became discredited in the eyes of many Mexicans. Nevertheless, throughout the 1990s, the PAN continued to win governorships and mayoralties in important cities, and remained the second political party of the country. After the 1988 election, the Mexican left merged with Cardenas's former PRI organization to form the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and clearly Cardenas would be the party's candidate in the 1994 election.
But on January 1, 1994 the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) led the Chiapas uprising against Salinas and NAFTA and created a new problem. The PRI chose a more populist candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio--but his assassination added to the sense that things were unraveling and Mexico might become Central America or Colombia. The PRI's new candidate Ernesto Zedillo put himself forward as the candidate of political stability and peace in a time of instability and violence. PAN candidate Fernandez de Cevallos declared that he was the candidate of "a state of law, a Mexico without lies." He made a good impression in the first televised presidential debates, and it seemed he might be able to win, when suddenly he seemed to pull back--some accused him of having sold out. In any case, in the election Ernesto Zedillo of the PRI won 50 percent of the votes, the Cevallos of the PAN 27 percent, and Cardenas of the PRD was reduced to a mere 17 percent.
Zedillo and the PRI moved to formalize the alliance with the PAN by appointing Antonio Lozano to become Attorney General, a position which necessarily implicated the PAN in all of the PRI's corruption. The appointment served the PRI well, but further discredited the PAN in the eyes of some Mexican citizens. The PAN, sharing the same political platform, the same political economy, and the same sort of social leadership, and became the political partner of the PRI.
The PRD appeared as a genuine opposition with the election of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas in 1995, but through the Salinas and Zedillo years the PRD suffered tremendous repression with about 500 PRD members killed in confrontations with the PRI or the state and the party was constantly stigmatized by the press and undermined by the PRI
The failures of the PRI and the repression of the PRD made Fox the only possible and realistic alternative for voters of the PRI, PRD, and his own PAN who wanted change. Fox’s career in the neo-panista movement, his business background, and his orientation toward the neoliberal, globalization agenda of the United States made him acceptable both to the Mexican elite, and to the U.S. government. All of these factors, and his own brilliant campaign orchestrated by U.S. image-makers, combined to make him the victor in 2000.
Kathleen Bruhn. Taking on Goliath: The Emergence of a New Left Party and the
Struggle for Democracy in Mexico. University Park: Pennsylvania, 1997.
Kathleen Bruhn is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara and this book began as her doctoral dissertation. This is the only book on the PRD in English so far. Bruhn's book, relatively free from jargon for a book in the field of political science, tells the story of the rise of the Democratic Current, the creation of the National Democratic Front (FND) and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas's 1988 campaign for president, then turns to the organizational and political failures of the PRD through 1994. While this is a useful overview, in my view Bruhn fails to relate the growth of the PRD to the economic and social struggles taking place in the country, concentrating too narrowly on party building and electoral contests.
Luis Javier Garrido. La Ruptura: La Corriente Democratica del PRI. Mexico:
Luis Javier Garrido is well known and respected for his history of Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) (El Partido de a Revolucion Institucionalizada: La Formacion del Nuevo Estado en Mexico (1928-1945) [Mexico: Siglo Ventiuno Editores, first published in 1982, 7th Edition, 1995]). But Garrido is also the author of La Ruptura which traces the history of the Democratic Current, the split in the PRI which gave rise to the Party of the Democratic Revolution. This is a well written, serious history based on newspaper accounts, documents, and interviews.
Adolfo Gilly. Cartas a Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1989.
Adolfo Gilly, the Argentinean-born Mexican historian, edited and published these fascinating letters sent to Cuauhtemoc Cardenas during his 1988 presidential campaign. Written by workers, peasants, teachers, students, and middle class supporters, the letters provide a fascinating picture of Cardenas's backers in that campaign.
Jorge Laso de la Vega, ed. La Corriente democratica: Hablan los protagonistas.
Mexico: Editorial Posada, 1987.
A collection of many of the basic documents of the Democratic Current of the PRI, the forerunner of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
Ifigenia Martinez, ed. Economica y Democracia: Una propuesta alternativa.
Mexico: Grijalbo, 1995.
A collection of over 40 essays, nearly 500 pages, by leaders of the Party of the Democratic Revolution and economists and social scientists sympathetic the party which present economic alternatives to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) program of neo-liberalism. Edited by Ifigenia Martinez, a founder of the Democratic Current which became the PRD.
Paco Ignacio Taibo II. Cardenas de cerca: Una entrevista biografica. Mexico:
Grupo Editorial Planeta, 1994.
Written to promote Cardenas's 1994 presidential campaign, this interview/biography provides some basic information about Cardenas while failing to ask any hard questions. Taibo, famous as a historian, biographer and detective story writer, brought none of his critical faculties to bear on Cardenas, disappointing those of us who have been his faithful readers. Partisan journalism.
Luis Javier Garrido. El Partido de a Revolucion Institucionalizada: La Formacion del Nuevo Estado en Mexico (1928-1945). Mexico: Siglo Ventiuno Editores, first published in 1982, 7th Edition, 1995.
The classic critical study of Mexico’s PRI, the party that ruled the nation for over 70 years. Essential.
V. Brief bibliography on archives, history and historiography of Mexico.
Asociacion Mexicana de Archivos y Bibliotecas Privados, A.C.,
Guia de archivos y bibliotecas privados. Mexico: AB, 1994. 112 pages.
A useful guide to 19 private archives and libraries in Mexico. There is a description of each archive, its guides, services, requirements for access, location, telephone and fax, hours of service, and the name and title of the person in charge.
Guillermina Bringas and David Macareno. Esboso Historico de la
Prensa Obrera en Mexico. Mexico: UNAM, 1988. Bibliography. 229 pages.
A guide to the labor movement press in Mexico organized according to historical periods. Chapter I deals with the labor press in the 19th century (1870-1899); Chapter II the labor press during the revolutionary period (1900-1917); Chapter III, the labor press during the period of the hegemony of the CROM; Chapter IV, the labor press during the period of reorganization of the labor movement (1929-1940); Chapter V, the labor press during the period of hegmony of the CTM (1941-1970); Chapter VI, notes on the labor press of the 1970s. There are tables of the labor press by labor organization, by the states of Mexico and the United States, and there is a general index of labor publications.
Enrique Florescano. El nuevo pasado mexicano. Third Edition. Mexico: Cal y
Arena, 1994. Notes, 229 pages.
A very useful historiographical essay on the new Mexican history originally published in 1991. There are extensive notes.
Enrique Florescano, editor. Mexico en 500 Libros. Mexico: Oceano, 1987. Index, 145 pages.
A useful bibliography of 500 important non-fiction books organized by period and topic, with an index of author names.
Enrique Florescano and Ricardo Perez Montfort, editors. Historiadores de Mexico en el siglo XX. Mexico: Consejo Nacional Para la Cultura y Las Artes and Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1995. 558 pages.
This is a collection of biographical and autobiographical essays on 44 historians living and working in the twentieth century. These include historians who study all periods and themes of Mexican history. The first section is made up of biographies of deceased historians, and the second of autobiographies of living historians. Many of the biographies in the first part are written by important historians, including some of those who also produce their own autobiographies for the second part. Most of the biographies are of historians born in Mexico or living and working Mexico, though some are also of foreigners. The biographies are uneven, but most are excellent.
Patricia Galeano de Valades, editor. Los Siglos de Mexico. Mexico: Nueva Imagen,
1991. Tables. 436 pages.
This extremely useful reference book is a timeline of Mexico from the beginning of human inhabitation until the end of the twentieth century. Parallel columns show dates and events in Mexico and in the world. The book is divided into several sections. The Pre-Hispanic Epoch, by Xavier Nogues; the Colonial Epoch, divided into two parts, the Sixteenth Century by Rosa Camelo and the Seventeen and Eighteenth Centuries by Gisela von Wobeser; the Nineteenth Century by Patricia Galena de Valades; and the Twentieth Century by Gloria Villegas. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Century sections have long entries which read continuously form a virtual narrative history of modern Mexico. There are a several useful tables at the end of the book.
Adolfo Gilly, Subcomandante Marcos, and Carlo Gnzburg. Discusion sobre la historia. Mexico: Taurus, 1995.
A historigraphical discussion between author Adolfo Gilly and leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) Subcomandante Marcos based on discussion of an article by Carlo Ginzburg.
Luis Gonzalez y Gonzalez. El oficio de historiar. Mexico: Clio, 1995. Bibliographies,
index, 358 pages.
A collection of historiographical essays by Mexican historian Luis Gonzalez y Gonzalez. The book includes two bibliographies, one begins on page 215 and ends on page 245; the other general biography beings on 331 and ends on 341.
Historia Mexicana, Volume XLII, October-December, 1992, Number 2 and January-March, 1993, Number 3. (Numbers 166 and 167) These two numbers together constitute the historiograhaphical issue. 819 pages.
Periodically Historia Mexicana, published by the Center for Historical Studies of the Colegio de Mexico, produces an historiographic issue dealing with many aspects of Mexican and Latin American history. The most recent historiographic issue hask, for example, essays on economic growth by Roberto Cortes Conde and on industrialization in Mexico by Stephen H. Haber. Altogether there are 18 historiographical essays on a variety of themes.
Insituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Informatica (INEGI). Estadisticas Historica de Mexico. Third Edition. Two volumes. Mexico: INEGI, 1994. 1,064 pages.
Almost entirely maps, tables, and charts, these two volumes provide the essential historical statistics of Mexico. Volume I has 12 chapters: 1, Population; 2, Education; 3, Housing; 4, Health; 5, Wages; 6, Employment; 7, Agrarian reform; 8, Gross domestic product; 9, Agrarian Reform, Cattle, Fish and Forests; 10, Mining; 11, Petroleum Industry; 12, Electrical Industry. Volume II has 10 chapters: 13, Manufacturing Industry; 14, Commerce; 15, Communicatons and Transportation; 16, Investment; 17, Public Finances; 18, Foreign Sector; 19, Prices; 20 Money and Banking; 21, Irrigation; 22, Urbanization.
Carlos Pereyra et al. Historia, ?Para Que? Fourteenth Edition. Mexico: Siglo
Veintiuno Editores, 1993.
First published in 1980, this is a historiographical debate among ten of Mexico's leading intellectuals and historians: Carlos Pereyra, Luis Villoro, Luis Gonzalez, Jose Joaquin Blanco, Enrique Florescano, Arnaldo Cordova, Hector Aguilar Camin, Carlos Monsivais, Adolfo Gilly, Guillermo Bonfil Batalla. An excellent collection of essays.
Lawrence Douglas Taylor. Revolucion Mexicana: Guia de Archivos y Bibliotecas.
Mexico-Estados Unidos. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de la Revolucion Mexicana, 1987.
An extremely useful guide to all archives in Mexico and the United States with materials relevant to the study of the Mexican Revolution. Each entry give the agency to which the archive belongs, its location, telephone number and hours of service, a description of the archive and its holdings. There is an index for locating the papers of particular individuals, as well as a name index.
Manuel Tunon de Lara. ?Por que la Historia?. Barcelona: Salvat Editores, S.A.,
1985. Illustrations, bibliography, 64 pages.
Spanish professor Tunon de Lara's well written and beautifully illustrated introduction to the study of history for students.
Josefina Zoraida Vazquez. La historiografia mexicana. Second
edition. Mexico: Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, 1992. 30 pages.
A brief historiographical essay, dealing with Mexican historians from the beginning to today.
Silvio Zavala. Vivencias y conversacion sobre historia: Premio Principe de Asturias
en Ciencies Sociales 1993. Mexico: Centro de Estudios de Historia de Mexico CONDUMEX, 1993. 56 pages.
A lecture by Mexican historian Silvio Zavala, followed by an interview with him by historian Jean Meyer. Of historiographical interest.
END LA BOTZ BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MEXICAN LABOR